FARE THE WELL

In memoriam Bob Collymore

In Summary

• It was a Golden Age for Shareholders and the returns he served up were amongst the top percentile worldwide.

• I condole with Bob's Wife Wambui and his Family and in the spirit of his syncretism will conclude with Kabir.

The late Bob Collymore.
The late Bob Collymore.
Image: REUTERS

Last week I attended my eldest daughter's graduation in Durham, a University that I had attended as well but not with as much distinction as Aysha who graduated with First Class Honours and of whom I am so proud.

As I sat in the more than 1000-year-old Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham commonly known as Durham Cathedral and home of the Shrine of St Cuthbert, It felt a little hallucinogenic.

I wished my departed mother and my father-in-law both of whom had adored Aysha had been with me and as I sat my mind also was thinking of another friend Robert Collymore. Esquire; Bob's Mum always called him Robert. I had been with Bob and with the boys club twice the preceding week and on the second occasion on Saturday afternoon he had turned to Bharat and said.

 

''I want to be cremated, How do I go about it?''

And Bharat referenced the Upanishads and Bob said I have read the Upanishads and I knew he had because some years ago he had read every religious source document including the Koran and was in the habit of asking me pointed questions about the Koran about which I was singularly ill-qualified to answer especially given that I was probably quaffing his best whisky at the same time, to his chagrin but about which he indulged me.

 

I said this to the Financial Times

He was right on top of his business, finger on the pulse, but at the same time, he had this unhurried ability to make you feel that he had all the time in the world to hear what you had to say,” Satchu said. “He saw it was about empowering Kenyans to join the 21st century, about putting the ability to communicate, the ability to do business, into their back pocket.”

The moments I savoured most were when Bob came back from a weekend in Seattle with Bill Gates and I would say:-

''Bill Gates huh?''

And he would say ''Yes and they wanted to hear what I had to say.''

 

And for a moment it was like we were little Boys [him from Guyana and I from Mombasa] and my experience was, of course, vicarious but those moments were the best.

And Do You know it all began many years ago and in those it was always about Bob was filling ''some big shoes'' And Bob would turn to Patrick and say what about that headline about shoes [it was practically an everyday thing] and Patrick would say let me speak to the Mzungu.

Under Bob Safaricom grew more than six-fold in market capitalisation. It was a Golden Age for Shareholders and the returns he served up were amongst the top percentile worldwide.

The markets emit the purest Signal. It was a privilege to watch the captain [He was the Captain of the Boys Club] navigate this incredible Journey. [Today, Safaricom is valued at 3x Airtel Africa. There is a ''Bob Collymore'' premium in that valuation, that's a fact]  And he did it with empathy, panache and a very droll wit and because of his posture, it is easy to skip over the complexity around the navigation.

The Regulatory framework was oftentimes a minefield. He managed Multiple Stakeholders and always kept his Foot on the Accelerator. If there ever was a Golden Goose that laid Golden Eggs. The Pivot to Financial Services was a big Deal.

However, most of all Bob believed in the Information Century and in connecting every Kenyan. to that Information Superhighway. He once said ''I spend my time think about my $1.00 a day Boda Boda offering''.

 

I condole with Bob's Wife Wambui and his Family and in the spirit of his syncretism will conclude with Kabir.

Between the poles of the conscious and the unconscious, there has the mind made a swing: Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, and that swing never ceases its sway.

Millions of beings are there: the sun and the moon in their courses are there:

Millions of ages pass, and the swing goes on.

All swing!.

Aly-Khan is a financial analyst