The sudden demise of corporate titan Bob Collymore is one that Kenyans are yet to come to terms with. Many have referred to Bob as a distinguished corporate leader, a visionary who has left a solid legacy in the business sector of this country.
In October 2017, Bob was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and proceeded to the UK to receive treatment. He returned in July 2018 to resume duties and had been undergoing treatment for this condition since then in different hospitals and most recently at Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.
In an exclusive interview with Citizen’s Jeff Koinange back in 2018, Bob opened up to the world about his condition. He admitted that being diagnosed with blood cancer did not upset him much as it was something he expected. But he was disappointed to learn that he had a whole nine months ahead of him to stabilize his condition before he could bounce back to work.
“After my first treatment, I said good let’s get back home. My doctor told me I can’t go home but if I did in six months time this cancer will be back and it will be worse than it was and I would not be fit for a curative program, which will force me to stick chemotherapy until I die,” he said.
In the isolation room in London, Bob thought about his death and decided to make peace with it. He attested that nobody should die from cancer in this day and age of advanced science and that what made cancer scary was how people reacted once one break the news.
“It is at this point that one thinks I might not come back and you look at the options you have. I am one of the people who believe that when I die I actually wanna be cremated pretty quickly. On average cost, a funeral in Britain fetches about $3000. I figure that out and realised I really need to get my affairs in order,” Bob told Jeff Koinange in the interview.
Jeff Koinange, a close friend to Collymore, revealed that he hang out briefly with the CEO on Saturday, two days before Bob’s demise and that despite the pain, he was in high spirits.
“We had known this was coming; Bob had informed us. So we knew that he wasn’t gonna last very long. He had been told by his doctors not to make any long-term plans. In fact, he was told that if he makes it past July, he would be lucky.
“He kept saying “look, I have lived a good life. I have some regrets; it’s not a perfect life, nobody is perfect, but I am ready now, I am ready,” recalled Jeff.
The remains of Bob will be cremated today in a ceremony open only to the deceased’s family members. A public memorial service will be held in his honour in the course of the week.
“There will be a private interment process tomorrow but, later on in the week, hopefully, Thursday or Friday, there will be a memorial service for all those who knew and cared for Bob,” said the Board Chairman Nicholas Nganga in a press briefing yesterday.
The Board has appointed Michael Joseph as an Interim CEO for the company and will hold the position until the board communicates in due course about his permanent appointment.