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Collymore cremation: Connected millions, sent off by few

The emotional ceremony was private, journalists were barred

In Summary

• The former telco boss was cremated, with just a handful of mourners allowed, despite having connected millions.

• He will be replaced in the interim with KQ board chair Michael Joseph.

Bob Collymore.
Bob Collymore.
Image: FILE

He connected millions through phone calls, messages and social media but at the end, only a handful was allowed to see him off. 

Safaricom boss Bob Collymore, 61, was cremated on Tuesday at Kariakor Crematorium in a private ceremony. Journalists were barred.

His final journey began at Lee Funeral Home on Monday.

 
 

From 9am, mourners started trickling in. After a few minutes the mourners who included the telco's top officials, including board chairman Nicholas Ng'ang'a, and friends, gathered in a tent that served as a chapel.

Some mourners broke down, sobbing. There were prayers before they set off for the next ceremony and final rites.

The modest casket was placed in a Jaguar hearse and then the convoy took off.

Police outriders cleared the roads as the cortege maneuvered through traffic to the crematorium. 

Upon arrival at Kariokor at 10.30am, the body was placed in a room where only his wife, children, mother and sister were admitted.  A few other family members, James and Sarah, were allowed in.

Collymore is survived by his widow Wambui Kamiru and four children, two with Kamiru and two stepchildren from her first marriage to Joseph Kinyua.

The family then joined friends in an open space for the ceremony.

 
 

After about three hours, the mourners who included politician Peter Kenneth and journalist Jeff Koinange streamed from the facility.

Radio Africa's Group's founder and CEO Patrick Quarcoo and philanthropist Manu Chandaria attended the event.

Speaking to journalist after the ceremony, retired Capt Kung'u Muigai who is a cousin to President Uhuru Kenyatta, said the day was sad and the country had lost a great leader. He said he was Collymore's father-in-law.

"It will take our country a long time to come to terms with what has happened. It is sad," he said.

Collymore was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in October 2017 in the UK after multiple tests at Nairobi Hospital. The disease at first appeared to be a flu. Tests at Nairobi Hospital showed he had pneumonia.

He returned to Kenya in July 2018 to resume his duties as Safaricom CEO while undergoing treatment at a number of hospitals. His condition worsened in June.

Journalist Jeff Koinange told a live TV show that together with other notable men including UK ambassador Nic Hailey, they met Collymore at his home on June 29 when he said his death was imminent.

"He said the doctors told him not to have a long-term plan because he would not last long. In fact, he told us he would be lucky if he lived through July," Koinange said. Collymore died at his home on Monday morning.

A memorial service is expected at the end of the week. 

He will be replaced in the interim with KQ board chairman Michael Joseph.

(Edited by V. Graham)