They were all champions in their own right. One beat the odds and rise from poverty to become a selfless MP with a heart for his constituents. He built a school because he believed education is one of the keys to releasing people from the shackles of poverty.
Another went down in history as one of the first women governors Kenya has produced after emerging victorious in a tough race against her opponent who was looking to secure a second term in office.
Yet another came from a far away land – Guyana – to fill the shoes of an extremely successful predecessor who had helped build a company to the point of becoming one of the most profitable firms in Kenya. He held his own and accomplished even greater feats than his predecessor. He blended in Kenya and identified with the country and its culture.
All the three had several things in common.
They made the country proud. But they also had something else in common – they all died from cancer – robbing the country of promising leaders.
Ken Okoth, Joyce Laboso and Bob Collymore fought a good fight, but lost the battle.
They were Kibra MP, Bomet governor and Safaricom CEO – top leaders.
Although cancer has cut short the lives of many people in Kenya, the three deaths brought more focus on the killer condition and talk was rife on whether it should be declared a national disaster.
Collymore died on July 1 at his home in Kitisuru.
He had gone to the UK in October 2017 to receive treatment for acute myeloid Leukemia and returned in July 2018 to resume duties at Safaricom.
A statement by the telco said that prior to his death, Collymore’s condition worsened.
Collymore left behind a wife and four children. He died at the age of 61.
Barely a month later, news broke of the passing on of Kibra MP Ken Okoth.
Okoth died on July 26.
His brother, Imran, said the legislator was rushed to Nairobi Hospital at 5pm on July 25 and moved to ICU at 8am the following day after multiple organ failure.
He succumbed to stage four colorectal cancer.
Two weeks before his death, Okoth had made his first official appearance in public after being away in France for five months seeking treatment.
Both Okoth and Collymore were cremated.
However, Okoth’s family members had differed on whether he should be buried or cremated. His wife said that before his death he had said his body should be cremated. But Okoth’s mother, Angeline, and other extended family members were initially opposed to cremation.
They, however, finally accepted cremation. He died at the age of 41.
Barely two days later, as Kenyans were coming to grips with Okoth’s loss, Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso died.
Laboso died at the Nairobi Hospital after battling cancer.
She had been admitted at the facility’s ICU since she arrived from India earlier where she was receiving treatment. She was 58 years old.
Laboso had left the country on May 29 for the United Kingdom (Royal Madden NHS Hospital) where she stayed before being transferred for further treatment in India.
She had been put on full bed rest and the county office had said the number of people visiting her at Nairobi Hospital was restricted to allow her enough rest.
Laboso left behind a husband and three sons.
During burial preparations, Laboso’s widower, Edwin Abonyo, revealed his wife had battled with cancer for more than two decades. She was first diagnosed with cancer 28 years ago, but she went into remission.
The deaths of the three prominent leaders made Kenyans realise just how real the threat of cancer is. Many people thought – if top leaders with access to many resources could succumb to the killer disease, what of the common Wanjiku?
Kenyans appealed to the government to build more cancer treatment facilities which were more accessible to everyone.
Many cancer patients seek treatment abroad because the country does not have enough specialists and equipment.
In Nairobi, ward reps asked Governor Mike Sonko to set up cancer screening and testing centres across major health facilities.
The ward reps said this would play a key role in early detection.
July was one of the worst months that Kenya has ever experienced. And that is looking at the leaders that we lost to the dreaded disease cancer.
Some of those leaders are the late Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth and the late Bomet governor Joyce Laboso.
One of the interesting things that has transpired from this episode, however, is how some of the leaders wanted their bodies to be dealt with. Instead of the tradition of being buried, we are hearing that the late Ken Okoth had requested to be cremated.
What is cremation? It is the disposal of a dead person’s body by burning it to ashes, typically after a funeral ceremony. This is the path that some prominent Kenyan personalities chose as their final wish.
Despite the fact that it has been around for a while, cremation has mostly gained popularity among the elite in Kenya. Today, we highlight some high-profile Kenyan personalities who were cremated in compliance with their wishes. They are and from the most recent;
The former Safaricom CEO died on July 1st last month. What was shocking was that he was cremated the next day at Kariokor crematorium in a private function restricted only to Safaricom’s top officials, family members, and a few state officers.
The renowned poet and gay activist was cremated in Nairobi following his death which occurred after suffering a stroke. Binyavanga’s body was incinerated at Kariakor Crematorium in a low-key event attended by close family members and friends.
The former presidential candidate and business magnate suffered cardiac arrest and died at the Karen Hospital ICU in Nairobi in April last year.
He was cremated at the Lang’ata Crematorium.
The son of Royal Media Services chairman SK Macharia, was cremated at Lang’ata after he died following an accident on the Southern by-pass.
The former Head of Civil Service Jeremiah Kiereini was cremated in March 2019 at a private family function. The family said it was the late billionaire’s desire to be cremated.
The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner was cremated in 2011 at a private ceremony at the Kariokor crematorium.
The family of the environmentalist and the government agreed to cremate the body according to her wishes with the ashes being interred at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies.
One of the highlights of the interview was when the musician spoke about the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore who was closer to Juliani that most people are aware of.
The rapper confirmed that Collymore was not only a friend but a mentor and motivator he looked up to. The entertainer himself who is doing a mentorship project dubbed Dandora Hip Hop City said he feels insecure in Collymore’s absence.
‘You know when you are doing things people see like you are going crazy. But one needs someone to affirm them that they are fine. This is the role Bob Collymore played on my end. You know there are those kind of people who in case you get into something they are the first ones to look up and they won’t let you. I could tell him Bob send me Sh 1k and would do so without probing a lot,’ the rapper said.
He also added how much of a positive impact Bob had on him. He explained,
‘If I was in a problem, I only made a call to him and he was quick to respond. He was the kind of person that did not ask a lot of questions, ” said the father of one.
Juliani and the late Bob met years ago at a Safaricom event, and since that time, their friendship blossomed. Many a time, the two had been photographed attending events together.
When Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore walked down the aisle, Juliani was the only one artiste on the guest list.
Did you know cremation is significantly less expensive than a traditional funeral? With no burial plot, casket or gravestone to purchase, cremation saves grieving families thousands of shillings.
The Kariokor Crematorium is one of the best-known in Kenya.
Attendant Maharaj Samshan gave the Star a picture of the process.
The crematorium charges a flat rate of Sh10,000 for a member and Sh22,500 for a non-Hindu.
Samshan said once a booking is made, the first step is to clean the place.
If it’s going to be at the electric kiln, officers ensure there is sufficient diesel to power it. And if it’s firewood, they stock enough for the job.
“The kiln undergoes maintenance once every year and a body requires about 40 litres of diesel to burn fully.,”he said.
When a hearse arrives, there is a short session for prayers and then the body is transferred onto a trolley and then wheeled to the cremation chamber.
Like a master craftsman, Samshan places the body on an open pyre of wood for those being cremated on wood.
He says the rack must be a few metres off the ground.
The body is placed between logs and sawdust placed beneath the rack to be used to light the fire.
The temperature is 1,000 to 2,000 degrees Celsius.
“Cremation takes one-anda-half hours and involves the burning of the body inside the coffin, in line with Health ministry regulations,” Samshan said.
He says the family selects one member to light the fire.
Families can choose to have their relatives cremated at an open kiln as they watch or at a closed one.
AFTER CREMATION PROCESS
The family can wait for the ashes the same day or go back for them the following day.
If not collected within a certain time frame, the ashes are dispersed in the crematorium grounds.
Maharaj said the few bones left and the ashes can also be taken to the mortuary for collection by relatives in urns.
“The ashes weigh between a half or quarter a kilo,” he said.
Samshan and his colleague do all the work, including chopping firewood, cleaning, maintaining the lawn, pruning trees, preheating the cremators and sorting out paperwork.
WHY DO HINDUS AND SEIKHS CREMATE?
Pandit Trivedi from SSDS temple says Hindus do not believe in the bodily resurrection and the reuniting of each soul with its physical body. They thus place no importance on preserving the corpse, which is the intent of burial in Christianity and Islam.
“The body is the prison of the soul that generates attachments and desires that prevent forward progress towards freedom thats why we (hindus)cremate.
In Hindu funerals, therefore, the role of cremation is to sever the ties of the soul to the body that it is leaving, freeing it to move.
Singh Khalsa-Lakhvir, a former Visual editor at the Star, said Sikhs cremate for spiritual reasons.
Since Sikhs believe that soul is immortal and does not die, he said they burn the physical and mortal remains to totally detach the soul from the body as it journeys back to its Creator.
As per Sikhi, the soul’s divine purpose is to further its journey beyond the physical.
“Cremation is done to confine the physical remains and respectfully and graciously return them to the five elements of which fire is one of them,” Khalsa said.
He noted that cremation is a dignified way to return the body to the earth, and helps absolve the family the burden of the upkeep of the grave or mausoleum. The body, as a temporary vessel for the soul, is humbly surrendered to flames to ensure nothing except its ashes remain behind to return to dust.
BUDDHISM AND CREMATION
Cremation is common among Buddhists. Because the Buddha was himself cremated, many Buddhists chose cremation.
Burial is also permissible.
The most common crematoriums in Nairobi are the Langata crematorium,Hindu crematorium and the Kariokor crematorium.
Google released its report on the most searched for topics in Kenya. At the top was no surprise Google Search trends with the death of Bob Collymore was the number one trending topic in the month of July.
The Guyanese-born British businessman served as the CEO at Safaricom PLC for 9 years before succumbing to cancer on the morning of 1st July 2019. Collymore’s death came almost a year after he openly spoke out about his illness, he died of acute myeloid leukemia and left behind his wife Wambui Kamiru and four children.
The third trending item this month was the death of Kibra Member of Parliament Ken Okoth. Okoth died at The Nairobi Hospital after a long battle with colon cancer. The MP was receiving treatment in Paris and returned home two weeks before his demise. The 41 year old leaves behind his wife, Monica Okoth.
Former KTN news anchor Esther Arunga was the fourth trending item after she was sentenced to 10months jail probation in a case involving the death of her son. Arunga is said to have lied about the circumstances under which her son suffered fatal injuries at a family home where she lived with her husband, Quincy Timberlake, in Brisbane, Australia, in June 2014.
The fifth trending item this month was the FaceApp application. FaceApp is a free app on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store with an age filter that makes people in photos look much older.
Below are the top trending searches according to the Google search trends. They are;
The late Bob Collymore truly left an impression on his friend Jeff Koinange, such that Jeff cannot stop talking about him. Yesterday on his JKL show, the man with boombox voice revealed a request that the late CEO had asked him to keep.
That request was that he host top female corporate leaders on his show JKLive. Jeff hosted Jane Karuku, Managing Director (MD) Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), Rita Kavashe (MD Isuzu EA) and Serah Katusia (MD MediaCom).
This is why Rita is here. I made a promise to my good friend, the late Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, that I bring some top women CEOs to the bench. Here we are. So Bob, wherever you are, we are now even.
In a previous interview, Bob had pitched the idea to his close friend Jeff telling him;
Promise me that you will do that. I have some top women leaders at Safaricom, Debrah and Rita. They have a lot to share. We have Anastacia, Angela, and many others.
The sad truth is that Bob wouldn’t be present to see his request fulfilled. The great thing about the interview was that the female CEO’s recognised what a brilliant leader Bob was, with KBL Managing Director, Jane Karuku, saying;
When we look at ourselves, we hope to leave an impact in society just like Collymore did.
Ms. Katusia added by saying;
Bob Collymore created a brand that has a purpose. That is what he left us.
Bob Collymore had a reputation as a CEO who would hire people based on skill rather than on educational credentials alone. Bob himself went up the ranks without the benefit of papers but with grit, skill, talent and perseverance.
The JKL live host has spoken a lot about Bob or as they affectionately called him, ‘Kihara’ since his untimely death earlier this month.
Word Is recently caught up with him for a quick interview. One of the questions that they asked was how he was dealing with the loss of one of his best friends?
It’s been more than two weeks now but it has not yet hit me that he is gone. Sometimes, I still sit down and imagine Bob walking in and asking us how we are doing. ´Hey, guys did you miss me?´
One thing he said that regrets is that he did not tell Bob how great a human being he was when he was alive. Jeff also recounted some of the wonderful pieces of advice that Bob had given their boys club when he was still alive.
Bob would tell Jeff and his close circle of friends that he wasn’t perfect, but that he learning from his faults and mistakes. Bob Collymore died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia earlier this month and it transpired that the late CEO had a great circle of friends that was full of industry heavy hitters.
They called themselves the boy’s club and would meet regularly. They were; Businessman Ally Khan Satchu, Radio Africa Group CEO Patrick Quarcoo, politician Peter Kenneth, Citizen TV News Anchor Jeff Koinange, Scangroup CEO Bharat Thakrar, British High Commissioner Nic Hailey and Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Joshua Oigara.
Before he died, the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore had a gift for his pal President Uhuru.
The gift is now the subject of debate on social media after Uhuru hinted that Collymore could have given it to his boys club.
While the gentlemen in the boys club chuckled about it, President Uhuru notified them that they will have to return it, ASAP.
Uhuru said, “I was supposed to have gone back to collect my gift reserved for a special friend from Bob and so Peter Kenneth, Oigara and crew, you will pay. That did not belong to you.”
What is this gift you ask?
Well it turns out it is a Johnnie Walker Directors Edition brand that Uhuru is said to love (The oldest blended scotch whisky ). It’s not available to the public.
According to the Whiskys auctioneer:
Johnnie Walker The Directors Complete Collection 6 x 70cl
Never available at retail, this collection was only given to very important Diageo types. Very few bottles made it to the secondary market and collectors have fought to get hold of this essential part of Walker history.
Incredibly rare, this is the complete 6 bottle collection consisting of annual releases between 2008 and 2013, each with their own unique, presentation, design and character, yet all unmistakably Johnnie Walker.
Moesha Kibibi is one woman who inspired both Bob Collymore and Churchill. Who could she be? She is the woman behind the Divas Power Initiative.
Founded by Moesha Kibibi, a professional dancer, Divas Power seeks to reach and empower kids from slums across the country.
Moesha’s story is one of struggle, trouble, hope, hope, and eventual redemption. She was at one time a facing a bleak future. Why? She had been chased away from home because of her passion for dancing.
The consequences for her decision were that she was locked out of home at 13 and had to fend for herself in the streets of Majengo, Nairobi. In order for her to succeed she had to sell groundnuts. At night, she would gang up with other street children to sleep at the space her dance group used for practicing.
She ganged up to sleep with other kids in the night to avoid dangers the night could present. During that time she was nearly raped 4 times!
But she was able to get out of the mess. Eventually, her resilience paid off and now she is inspiring many young girls to pursue their dance passion as well.
Eventually, Bob Collymore using his Safaricom initiative, Ndoto Zetu, came to her aid.
Through the initiative, Safaricom promised to sponsor 18 girls from her organisation for five years as a commemoration of the company’s 18-year stint in Kenya.
Small deeds go a long way to instill hope and positively transform communities. Moesha Kibibi, Power Divas Initiative supports over 2,000 girls with access education and shelter. #NdotoZetupic.twitter.com/jtpDrUEkMR
In that way, Moesha was able to hand the needy girls the lifeline they needed. The girls’ eyes are now open to possibilities – that there are answers out there waiting for them to find, that there are empty desks and incomplete teams and people waiting for them to join.
Fast forward to 2019, Moesha made it and is now helping over 2500 girls wade through the murky waters of poverty.
Bob Collymore has been the by-word on many people’s lips and that is understandable. One person who spoke about him at his memorial service was President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Uhuru and Collymore were closer than most Kenyans were aware of. The two met barely a week before the late CEO’s demise and had a 4-hour conversation.
In that tête-à-tête, the two spoke about the future of Kenya as well as the telecommunications company. Bob also relayed news of his impending death.
Though the 61-year-old corporate titan put up a brave face knowing the clock was ticking, he requested Uhuru to take care of his widow Wambui Kamiru and children.
The head of state also remembered a promise that Bob had given him during the heart-to-heart. Uhuru recalled Bob’s words;
I’m going to break a promise I made to you over a year ago. I don’t think I have more than a couple of weeks to go. I’ve given up, I’ve tried everything and I have accepted my time has come. My chapter is closed. You cannot do anything for me, I have sorted my life and issues, just take care of Wambui and my kids.
William Ruto also spoke about the late visionary leader in glowing terms. He said
When you met Bob, he behaved and interacted with you as if he was going to live forever, it was quite a paradox and goes to demonstrate his life well lived.
The deceased was confirmed dead at his Nairobi home on Monday morning after losing his battle to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. His remains were cremated at Kariokor crematorium a day later.
Cancer robbed us this week of a great warrior. That person was the late Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore. Bob succumbed to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia on Monday after battling the disease for two years.
While it may seem that cancer claims every person that it attacks, there are some people who have fought the disease and won. And there are those Kenyans who are still fighting right now.
One of those is Kibra MP Ken Okoth battling Colorectal Cancer with every fiber in his body. He has been in France the last couple of months for treatment. He recently decided to pay a visit to Kenya’s ambassador to France, Judy Wakhungu.
While visiting Wakhungu, they discussed various issues ranging from education projects and sports diplomacy among other issues affecting his constituents. She wrote on her Twitter page;
Courtesy call from from Ken Okoth (Kibra). He updated us on many issues including his impressive education projects and his plans for increasing them to reach as many students as possible. He is also keen to use Sports Diplomacy to expand students’ horizons.
Many Kenyans were thrilled to see the MP in good spirits including Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who weighed in urging the MP to soldier on. Sonko also promised to sponsor a team of religious leaders, and his constituents to pay him a visit in France, writing;
Cancer is really hitting us hard. The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart…on behalf of the great people of Nairobi our prayers are with you Ken Okoth. I shall be willing to sponsor and lead a delegation of pastors, Imams and a few Kibra constituents to visit him in France and pray for our beloved MP. Get Well Soon Bro. Just continue believing in God.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. … The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion (Ksh 116 trillion shillings).
Interim Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph spoke about his dear friend and dearly departed comrade, Bob Collymore. But it wasn’t easy. He broke down in tears while doing so at Bob’s memorial service that occurred yesterday at All Saints Cathedral.
He explained to those gathered that Bob had introduced him to a poem that either of them was meant to read out, depending on who passed away before the other, saying;
About one year ago, Bob showed me this poem that he’d found in a book, and we agreed that whoever survived the other was honour-bound to read it at the other’s funeral.
Michael read the poem while fighting back tears. It is below;
He then went on to read out the following poem on behalf of the former Safaricom CEO, who passed away on July 1, 2019, after a long battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). I hope I can trust you, friends, not to use our relationship As an excuse for an unsolicited ego-trip. I have seen enough of them at funerals and they make me cross. At this one, though deceased, I aim to be the boss. If you are asked to talk about me for five minutes, please do not go on for eight. There is a strict timetable at the crematorium and nobody wants to be late. If invited to read a poem, just read the bloody poem. If requested To sing a song, just sing it, as suggested, And don’t say anything. Though I will not be there, Glancing pointedly at my watch and fixing the speaker with a malevolent stare, Remember that this was how I always reacted When I felt that anybody’s speech, sermon or poetry reading was becoming too protracted. Yes, I was intolerant, and not always polite And if there aren’t many people at my funeral, it will serve me right.
Micheal added that he and Bob would normally ignore each other’s instructions and as such he would not read the rest of the poem.
He noted that because of Bob’s inspiration he was writing a book titled, My Life in Safaricom and he confessed that he had only written one chapter so far, which he had named Bob.
Michael finished off by tearfully saying that he would have wanted Bob to live forever but God had other plans for him.
Literally every Kenya is talking about the group of men who were friends with the late Bob Collymore.
The group, who refer to themselves as the boys club, have over the last three days since his death on Monday July 1st, spoken extensively about the bond they hold.
They were unveiled to Kenyans on Citizen TV’ JKL, where each man revealed their closeness to Bob and each other.
The boys club consists of KCB’s Joshua Oigara, Radio Africa’s Patrick Quarcoo, Citizens Jeff Koinange, Politician Peter Kenneth, Businessman Braharat Thakrar, Envoy Nic Hailey, Lamin Jamang.
Jeff wrote: Thank you BOYS for coming through for the Great BOB “Kihara” COLLYMORE!!!…You are TRUE friends indeed!!…Let’s do this again TOMORROW!!…For BOB!!!..
Joshua Oigara spoke about hims saying: Bob was the most genuine and down to earth person I have ever met. He was genuinely interested in what we were doing
Lamin Majang: It’s very extra ordinary when a CEO is out of the country for several months and is still able to influence and lead a company thousands of miles away
“Success is not numbers, it’s not the growth of the company, it’s the legacy that you leave behind… Bob touched a lot of people in many ways” – Bharat Thakrar
Peter Kenneth: Bob had an infectious attractive manner of making friends and I’m glad I was one of those he called close friends
KOT are envious and questioning what type of friends they keep in their circle.
One of Kenya’s GDP boysclub in one photo, while boysclub zetu ni kusimama kwa liqour stores looking for the cheapest liquor with the highest alcohol percentage!! Tragic😔#JKLive
As much as people refuse not to believe,the company you keep and associate with determines and impacts a lot and that might be called to attention by my father.
@bobcollimore’s inner circle was so legit #JKLive
Great to see male friendship that is uplifting, challenging each other positively, embracing of vulnerability & diverse (age, race). We need to see more of this as the counter narrative to the “boy child” phenomenon. Now mentor more Bruh clubs in your circles of influence.
while the #BoysClub contribute to the GDP, wengine hapo na mbogi wanachanga Mzinga
Rethink your friendships. How solid are they? How well can you count on them? And how deeply do they love you as you do them? The Boys Club is an envy! It’s admirable.
Also, true, iron sharpens iron, and you cannot expect to soar like an eagle when you walk w/ ducks.
Lovely of #TheBoysClub sharin deep memorable friendship wth yr buddy Bob Collymore indeed he had yr bacs n you had his.
I’m thinkin if time availd u’d do a man’s choral singin Friends Are Friends Forever in thanksgivin service.
Gr8 honors #JKLive
I am so encouraged by the Friendship you guys had with Bob, friends who share everything, the sad and the happy moments, you are always together, may Bob RIP and may you continue with the boy’s club, please add Bob’s wife too
The boysclub notthe normal boys i wish i could have sch kind of friends
1. The memorial service of Mastermind Tobacco founder Wilfred Murungi took place on June 13 at All Saints Cathedral, just like Bob Collymore’s. Both memorial services were open to everyone.
2. They were CEO’s of top companies in Kenya
Wilfred was at the helm of the company for more than three decades.The late Murungi founded Mastermind after learning the ropes of the cigarette industry during a stint at BAT Kenya, which he left in 1985 having held the position of technical director.
Bob held the position of CEO of Safaricom Limited since November 1, 2010.
Jeff Koinange keeps on dropping interesting anecdotes about his late friend and former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore. On his show last night, he revealed how their friendship had had periods of in-fighting, moments where they couldn’t stand each other.
During the special edition of JKLive to commemorate the deceased CEO, his friend Jeff recounted a time when they had a heated exchange forcing him to leave their WhatsApp group.
But that wasn’t all, Jeff says that barely 10 minutes after he left the WhatsApp group, Collymore himself called him up and called him out. Jeff said;
My most stubborn moment with Bob was when I left the WhatsApp group. Do you remember? I deleted myself from the group and left a few expletives. But less than 10 minutes later he put me back and said, ‘nobody exits this group, it’s a one-way street’.
Peter Kenneth who was another member of the panel agreed by saying;
He talked to us. It would have been hurtful to him because first of all, you and him, as you rightfully said, started off as best of friends. Remember, through his first hard times initially, you were there for him.
Jeff conquering by adding they often met used at Bob’s home before the group was formed, saying;
We used to meet a lot at his house or he would come over to my house before this group was formed. I don’t know what it was. I think it was when I first met him and thought he was Michael Joseph’s bodyguard.