Furi Furi dance, Ice Bucket Challenge: The other side of Bob Collymore


The late Bob Collymore dancing during the Safaricom Can't Stop The Feeling challenge.
The late Bob Collymore dancing during the Safaricom Can't Stop The Feeling challenge in 2016. PHOTO| COURTESY

In Summary

  • A YouTube video reveals that journalist Larry Madowo dared Collymore to take part in the Ice Bucket challenge.
  • A barefooted Collymore, dressed in a red T-shirt and blue joggers, is seen holding a pack of ice.
  • He hits the pack against a tree, seemingly to break it up, then pours the contents into a bucket half full of water before lifting it up to his head and pouring it all over his body.

The Furi Furi dance challenge, a popular style that hit the Kenyan music scene almost seven years ago, was one that Bob Collymore found to good to ignore.

A remix of the initial track by gospel musician Jimi Gait shows Collymore singing and dancing as Jeff Koinange and Julie Gichuru join in later on.

His dancing skills that would always leave fans in stitches, were recorded yet again during the Can’t Stop The Feeling Safaricom office challenge.

Collymore is seen seated in his office, typing on a computer on his desk but when the Justin Timberlake song starts playing, he removes his cufflinks, stands up, hands in the air and ‘busts a move’, smiling all the while.

In the background is a painting of what seems to be a bustling Nairobi city centre; men and women depicted walking on the street, some riding bicyles and others in a bus and a saloon car.

The Safaricom CEO seemed to really love challenges as he took yet another one: the Ice Bucket Challenge.

According to a CNN report in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was a social media campaign to raise awareness and money to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

“And it’s simple, in the same way that laying stiff as a board in weird places or dancing the “Harlem Shake” is simple. Dump a bucket of ice-cold water over your head, then challenge a friend, or friends, to either do the same or donate money to the The ALS Association. Make a video of the whole thing and post it to your social media accounts. Voila! You’ve completed the #IceBucketChallenge,” the news article reads.

In Kenya, the challenge was localised to create awareness for the Beyond Zero campaign, an initiative launched by Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta that aims to improve maternal and child health in the country.

A 45-second long YouTube video reveals that journalist Larry Madowo dared Bob Collymore to take part in the Ice Bucket challenge.

A barefooted Collymore, dressed in a red T-shirt and blue joggers, is seen holding a pack of ice.

He hits the pack against a tree, seemingly to break it up, then pours the contents into a bucket half full of water before lifting it up to his head and pouring it all over his body.

“Now I will challenge Juliani, Peter Kenneth and Jacob. Do the ice challenge!” he says afterwards. This was to be the only video he would ever post on his YouTube channel.

“Bob Collymore had such a dry sense of humour but he was such a human as well. He would hang out with Juliani (Kenyan gospel singer) in Korogocho, Umoja and Huruma. We would just hang out in the streets. He was that kind of guy.”

This is how Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange described his friend, the Guyanese-born British businessman who served as Safaricom CEO for almost 9 years.

Koinange who was among the few people who knew that Collymore had only one month to live describes the deceased as someone who got along with everybody and not just the ‘top dogs’.

“He loved Kenya, what it had gone through and the country it had now become. He wanted to be a part of it,” Jeff adds.

At one time, Kenyans spotted Collymore on the streets of Nairobi, aboard the entrance of a matatu, calling out to passengers.

He had assumed the role of a tout (makanga), albeit for a few hours, holding up a placard written 7C: this was the route that the vehicle operated in –between the city centre and Nairobi’s Upperhill area.

On the same day, he also drove the bus and paid commuter fare as an early Christmas treat for passengers who were aboard. That was December 15, 2016.

He also appeared several times on the popular JKL show, injecting humour and wit to his responses to Jeff’s questions. Here is an excerpt below from one of the interviews:

Jeff: “You know now if the Group MD Wachira Waruru is watching, my job is on the line.”

Collymore: “Yeah….that last piece that I read was actually an audition….so…you (Wachira Waruru) got my number, give me a call. I’m free every Wednesday night.”

He was a man who wore several hats; not only was he the boss at Safaricom, but also a champion for women and children’s rights.

He was one of the volunteers of the Unilever Heroes for Change program for vulnerable women and children in Kenya.

In May 2017, he joined a team of industry leaders in training 100 university students on how to become agents of positive social change using skills on health and well being.

And during a past interview on Citizen TV in 2015, Collymore revealed that Josephine Kulea, who was rescued from female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage as a child, was one of his heroes.

He narrated how he and his team had travelled to Samburu for a fundraiser for a dormitory for girls who Josephine had rescued from FGM.

The Women in Technology program that he oversaw at Safaricom was also one of the top priorities that he highlighted during the interview.

“Women in Technology tries to introduce skills to young girls and show them that it is not just a man’s world. If you come to our officers (Safaricom) on a Saturday morning you will find girls from as young a 6 who are doing Science experiments and having a great time,” he said.

“We have built a library, dorm and playing field at Starehe Girls’ Centre, Fafi Girls Secondary School in Garissa and in Karachuonyo, South Nyanza because we believe that girls should be brought up with dignity and respect,” he added.

Indeed the last post on his Twitter profile stands as evidence of his passion for women’s rights.

Additional report by Rachel Ombaka

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