On October 30, 2017, Kenya’s most profitable company Safaricom #ticker:SCOM announced that its then chief executive officer, Robert (Bob) Collymore, was taking a lengthy medical leave. This was the first time the country became aware of the illness of the man known more for steering the country’s biggest telco.
The management, while making the announcement, stopped short of divulging details about the nature of his illness but all indicators thereafter pointed to the fact that it was a serious condition.
Collymore’s leave to seek treatment in London, UK, lasted nine months.
He revealed details of his battle with cancer through a video link from London in May 2018, during the results briefing for the financial year ending March. He revealed details about his treatment and said he was awaiting medical clearance to travel back to Kenya.
For about two years before his demise yesterday, Collymore suffered acute Myeloid Leukemia; which starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.
“I just entered the final phase of treatment and expect to be back in Nairobi as soon as my doctors feel that my immune system is sufficiently robust to withstand the infection risks that are usually associated with airline travel,” he said in the message directed at Safaricom’s customers, shareholders and staff members.
He returned at the helm of the company in July 2018.
Collymore becomes the latest renowned person to succumb to Leukemia, a type of cancer that claimed about 1,311 Kenyans in 2017 according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
“Bob was very brave in telling the country what he was going through. It’s not easy to reveal such personal details, but Bob did it. He fought this cancer with great courage, with everything he had, and he continued to give leadership to the company, for which we are truly grateful,” said Safaricom Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nicholas Nganga.
“In recent weeks, however, his condition worsened, and he succumbed to the cancer at his home in the early hours of today (Monday, 1st July 2019).”
President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the political and business leaders who sent their condolences to Collymore’s family and Safaricom staff.