• The Boys Club met him for the last time on Saturday
• "If there are ghosts, I will come and rustle the curtains and on birthdays when you light the candles for my children, I will come and help blow them out.”
Once in a lifetime cometh a man who against all expectations wins and succeeds wildly in making friends, family and a whole nation love, respect and esteem him.
When I was first introduced to Mr. Robert Collymore he had two strikes against him. First, who could fill the phenomenal shoes of the legendary, visionary, committed, fiery, blunt, and driven Michael Joseph? The other strike I will not talk about.
Bob did not fill Michael's shoes, he made his own shoes. Sewn with his relentless commitment to excellence and hard work, he created a new higher and noble purpose for Safaricom – serve the customer, serve the society, change lives and build employees. He made everyone aspire to be better with humanity, his deep warmth, unvarnished honesty and his humility.
He also did something uncommon – he forged deep and lasting bonds. I somehow found my way into a small company of highly driven men – leaders of industry, diplomacy and media - which became the Boys Club. Bob and I shared the burdens of each other but quickly I realised we both collected African art and loved jazz. He was wonderfully talented. He painted beautifully and played the saxophone that he loved like a child with a lollipop.
He caused a change in all his friends – he made us more human, warmer like himself and willing to open up and sometimes vulnerable. He made me and a bunch of stuck-up men unbutton our shirts and become men who thought a lot more about purpose.
On Saturday Peter, Alykhan, Bharat and Jeff had our last meeting with him. He made us smile when he said, “I don’t know about this heaven and earth thing, but I truly hope there is a life after death.” We asked why. With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "If there are ghosts, I will come and rustle the curtains and on birthdays when you light the candles for my children, I will come and help blow them out.”
He calmly told us, "If I get three more days, I will be lucky." We asked what we must do, should we part. "Stay together, stand by Wambui," he said.
At the next Boys Club dinner, we will set a place for our 'Captain' as we called him and will raise our glasses knowing that he has changed us and Kenya forever. For Wambui and the kids, all I can say is you gave him a new purpose for life and added an amazing spring to his step. Thank you and Adieu till we meet again.