Farewell to ‘Mr Cool’ Errol Hickey – One of a kind

I met Errol Hickey in 1970 when I worked for the late husband of Her Honour Inonge Wina, Mr Arthur Wina, when he started IAP. – It was the first Zambian- owned advertising agency in the country.  Those were very exciting days and they were the days that Zambia stood strong as a new nation soon after independence.  They were brave days and brave Zambians developed businesses and took risks as entrepreneurs.  I remember Errol saying to me: “before Independence you could never dream about a Zambian owning anything.”
I arrived in Lusaka as a very young 22-year-old and that is when I met Errol.  I was very hip and he was very groovy.  After all it was the 70’s soon after Carnaby Street fashions in UK and he loved fashion just as I did.    He was our photographer at IAP, and just like Arthur Wina,  he was very brave running his own  business soon after independence and  he was the most successful photographer in Zambia.
We booked him for all of our work which ranged from fashion photography for the accounts I looked after – Kafue Textiles – to  ITT Supersonics, BATA Shoes, Zambia Sugar, Zambia National Tourist Bureau, UNIP and many more of our major client accounts.
Errol was very cool in those days and I will always remember his great dress sense and fashionable taste with floral shirts and bell bottom trousers and I will always remember his bright and confident personality which I loved so much.
We lost touch over the years when I returned to Australia in 1973  but when I returned to Zambia in 2013 to write my book My Love Affair with Zambia, one of the first people I looked for was Errol to include in my book.   I wrote the book about my life in Zambia in the 70’s and I revisited people from my past including many of the models I trained back then who did work for our agency and in particular the Kafue Textiles account.   Errol took all of our photos which appeared in the Zambia Daily Mail and a variety of magazines published in Zambia in the era. I stayed in Zambia for two months at the Ridgeway Hotel while I did the research for my book  and it was amazing to meet up with Errol at the hotel after so many years.   We loved seeing each other and it was just like old times again.  After that we never lost touch.
I was amazed  to see how well he had done in business. He was always a risk-taker, but what an amazing contribution he made to Zambia.  He had great pleasure in showing me his conference facilities, his hire business, his lodges, his radio station Radio Phoenix and to show me the work he did for the disadvantaged.  I saw the staff he hired to collect second-hand clothing, wash it and package it and I  was very impressed with how he distributed to the poor.  I know he was prepared to take risks at Radio Phoenix to make it “the people’s station” as he was brave to introduce radio which allowed people to talk on air and comment on just about every subject at a time of sensitivity.  What courage that he took, but it was all part of being a democratic nation.
It was great to have a beer with him at his house and talk about the past.  We looked at all of his famous photos with celebrities, talked about the parties we went to together,  rock ‘n roll, our time with the Wina family, his daughter, the death of his adored wife and he was so  keen to provide me with a chapter to include in my book about his life between 1970 and 2013.   Errol was most hospitable to me during my research tour and my daughter travelled with me for several weeks and she too adored him.
I returned to Zambia in August 2014 for the launch of my book by Her Hon. Mrs Inonge Wina and it was great to see him at the launch at Government House.
I saw him again in 2015 and 2016 when I returned to Zambia to plan for the hospital our charity Dignity Zambia is building – the Arthur Wina Memorial Hospital. It is a small rural hospital in Nalolo which at long last is due to commence building this year with the support of Nev Pace Australian project manager and The Zambia Project missionaries in Mongu who are managing the building.    Whenever I was in Lusaka it was always out to dinner with Errol and he always insisted on paying.   I won’t be able to do that again and I will miss it.
I tried to get Errol to travel across to stay with us in Australia  and he was interested, but due to ill health he just could not travel that far.  I tried over several months but realised with surgery and chemo it was not going to happen.
So I will miss this wonderful man and for me Zambia will not be the same without him.  A man of character, strength, confidence, a very hard worker, a creator of employment for Zambians, a lover of fine art, entertainment and hospitality, fine food and good wine, a  very brave man with a great sense  of honour.  And above everything, he loved Zambia and I believe Zambia loved him.  Farewell my dearest friend Errol.
The author is CEO for Volunteer Dignity Zambia and Australian journalist.

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