Collymore represented what leaders might be

In Summary

• Outpouring of grief for Safaricom CEO has been unprecedented.

• He was a brilliant business leader but also accessible and human.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
Image: FILE

There has been an extraordinary outpouring of grief for Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore over the last five days. One almost wonders if any other Kenyan (as he had become) would be mourned to the same extent.

Numerous eulogies for Bob Collymore have identified the things that made him special. He demystified the position of CEO. He was consistently accessible. He would queue in the Safaricom cafeteria at lunch and then join staff at random tables. He could stand next to a matatu and call out the destination.

He was also a visionary. He advanced the technology of Safaricom so that it remained ahead of its competitors and kept Kenyans on the global frontline of mobile money. Even people in the village know Bob Collymore as the person who pushed Mpesa into every corner of their lives.


But is this enough to explain why Kenyans are so sad to see him go? It is almost as if Kenyans are yearning for a different type of leader and Bob was a role model for what might be. He was straightforward, practical, honest, effective, cost-conscious and not corrupt.

It is as if Kenyans are asking why can't all our leaders be like that, as if they are waiting for their own Barrack Obama to come forward.

Quote of the day: "You shouldn't say 'animals' to distinguish between humans and non-humans. We are all animals."

Peter Singer
The Australian philosopher was born on 6 July, 1946