TRIBUTE TO OUR FRIEND, COUNCIL AND BOARD MEMBER, CHRIS NICOL
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 31 August 2005
On Monday 29 August 2005 the APC network lost someone who was a colleague, a leader and a friend.
Chris Nicol, member of the APC council and also of the APC executive board, died in Barcelona after more than a year of struggling against cancer. For much of the time during this battle Chris was winning, continuing to work, travel and network when the difficult cycle of surgery and treatment left him with any spare time.
Chris was an Australian who had been living in Barcelona for around 25 years. He also spent time in Nicaragua in the period just after the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship. Chris worked in the British Council in Barcelona for many years, he taught English and set down roots in Catalunya in many ways – politically, culturally, socially and through his long relationship with his partner Chenchy. Chris was also active in the Barcelona solidarity movement with the Zapatistas, organising, raising funds, helping out where he could. And he loved music, wine, and nature.
Chris was deeply committed to justice, to humanity. He was a real activist who also threw himself into practical and concrete tasks with energy and humour.
Chris became part of the APC community in 1995. His organisation, Pangea, was part of an association of Spanish internet activist organisations which together applied for APC membership. In 2000 Pangea (www.pangea.org) became a member of APC in its own right. Chris was part of Pangea from its first days, working sometimes as a volunteer and sometimes as staff, but always giving heart and soul to the organisation.
He first attended an APC council meeting in 1997 in South Africa although many APC people had already met him by then. Chris was first elected onto the APC executive board at the APC council meeting in Uruguay in 2001 and at the time of his death he was APC treasurer. He worked tirelessly at a recent executive board meeting in South Africa in April even though he had only just finished another gruelling round of treatment.
For all of us in APC it is very hard to express how much Chris meant in the network. His was always an active voice, supportive and sometimes critical.
He was deeply committed to APC strengthening its advocacy role, to being more than a provider of member services. He was one of the first people in APC to raise the issue of free software, to start using GNU/Linux on his desktop, and to develop projects to support organisations in migrate their desktop environments to free and open source software.
Chris made two contributions to APC’s work recently which will live on for a long time. He was the editor and compiler of "ICT policy: a beginner’s handbook" (http://www.apc.org/books) which we published in English in late 2003 and in Spanish this year. This book will be updated with a new version going online on a wiki so that it can remain a living and growing testimony to Chris’ work. And, earlier this year, he drafted the outline of a free software initiative for the APC network which we have been building on and which will be presented to APC members later this year.
Chris was a permanently engaged member of the APC team participating in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process, from its inception in 2002 through to the latest PrepCom in Geneva, February 2005, one of his last work related trips. In many ways, he was a compass – always pointing to those actions that were necessary, just and not always easy – whether it was in solidarity around redressing unjust distribution of resources, the fierce battles around intellectual property and free software, or insisting that the APC team met to communicate and strategise regularly in the hustle and bustle of the United Nations conferences.
Every moment was precious to Chris, precious in that he felt one should never be wasted – whether the moment was spent drafting, lobbying, meeting, demonstrating, or talking with friends and colleagues.
Chris was always there, whenever we needed him, and was a constant reminder of our message and vision – to create "a world in which all people have easy, equal and affordable access to the creative potential of ICTs to improve their lives and create more democratic and egalitarian societies" (the APC vision).
All of us in the APC community want to share our love and support of Chris with his family and his friends, with Chenchy and with Chris’ mother and sister in Australia, with his colleagues in Pangea.
APC will not forget Chris and will be honouring and remembering Chris Nicol through an initiative that will reflect his passion and committment to creating a more socially just world, and inspire others to continue the battle to do so.
We will share more news about this initiative shortly, but at this time, we warmly welcome all of those who knew or knew of Chris and his life’s work, to share messages on the editable website we have created in his honour.
Association for Progressive Communications members and staff
30 August 2005