RIP BOB : A TRIBUTE By Mwangi Ndegwa

On the 1st of July 2019, a great man breathed took his last breath. Death had brought down the curtains on an illustrious management career...


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On the 1st of July 2019, a great man breathed took his last breath. Death had brought down the curtains on an illustrious management career spanning ten years. Robert William Collymore or Bob Collymore as many had known him, breathed his last, succumbing to cancer which he had bravely fought for quite some time.

Once a person passes on, there isn’t much we can do about it although there are many lessons we can take from the life that person lived. Most people focus on the hits or misses of the deceased however, if we could stop and reflect for a moment, whether that person was successful or not, we can pick some vital lessons which if properly applied, can impact our lives in a very big way.

I had the opportunity to watch the memorial service for Bob and every speaker spoke glowingly of him. Sometimes, I was even surprised by the testimonies of some of the speakers and the things they said about Bob. Bob was not just your local lad just whiling his time away. He was the CEO of one of the largest and most profitable and innovative company in Kenya, and its impact has been felt all around the world. 

 There are some major lessons we can learn from the life of Bob namely: 

  1. An office does not define the man but rather, the man defines the office. The mention of Safaricom would immediately trigger the image of Bob. He used that office so well that the company is finding it hard to replace him.
  2. Humility is the hallmark of a successful person. Bob was one person who had the ear of even the Kenyan president himself and could call him directly but this didn’t stop him (despite his high position), from mingling with the lowly in society. Bob would ride on the popular mode of transport in Kenya known as matatu, mingle freely with informal traders, in order to understand what they went through and the challenges they were experiencing.
  3. Bob always created time for important things. Bob was a family and despite his busy schedule, he always had time for his family and friends. He knew that when all was said and done, and all the profits announced, the only place he could find tranquility was at home.
  4. Bob believed in people and their ability to transform their own lives. Bob was at the forefront of funding and supporting the creative – be it in sports or the performing arts. Bob knew that talent if well nurtured, could bring huge change in any country and that is why he was always ready and willing to render his support to anybody who was ready to hone his/her talents. He knew that the best investment you can ever make was in people and that he did, selflessly. His employees had such glowing tribute about him case in point, mothers who had newborns.
  5. Last but not least, Bob was a progressive thinker. He was not the kind of person to bank on yesterday’s success. His success was measured against beating yesterday’s mark and that’s why Safaricom’s profits kept rising year after year and every now and then, there were new innovations and products in the market. Bob knew that the greatest enemy of future success is past success.

Bob was human and he had his own shortcomings and failings but the special thing about him is that he owned up to his mistakes and was willing to accept when things went wrong. As I conclude, I would like to quote some words from some of my favourite writers “The greatest tragedy in life is not death but living a life without purpose.” ~ Dr Myles Munroe. “If you die today, would it matter that you lived?” ~ Dr Wale Akinyemi “If your absence is not felt, then your presence was not necessary.” Dr Wale Akinyemi

When we finally take our final bow, nobody will remember the cars we drove, our mansions, the clothes we wore, the neighbourhood we lived in, or the joints we frequented in, though important. People will remember you for how you made them feel, from the words you spoke to them and the things you did for them. Our legacies are not written in history books but rather, in the hearts and minds of the people we interact with daily.

Even as we put effort in to our studies, businesses and innovations, let us remember that the greatest investment is in the lives and hearts of men. Let us impact people positively and we will not need to worry about what will be in our eulogy when we pass on, for we will have already given the writers material to write. Fare thee well Bob. To read more posts by Mwangi, click HERE

Photo Credit: Safaricom

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