By JOHN KAMBUOU OBE
IT was on Monday, January 4, 2010 when I was told on the phone that Henry Kila or commonly known by his peers as HK, passed away at 1am this morning. I refused to believe what I was hearing. It can’t be, not HK. I was only talking to him two days ago.
Like many who came to know HK, I also had the opportunity to know him both at a professional and personal level.
It was in Lae in the early mid 70s when I was introduced to HK by another close associate Pelik Sepul, late Royden Aigal, Diau Roo and Namon Mawason.
Mr Kila then was with an insurance company, which I believe was Stenhouse. Through Mr Kila, I came to know a few things on insurance and its industries.
He introduced me to some young Papua New Guineans in insurance industries who are now successful in their own insurance career in the likes of Richard Kassman, Lloyd Aila and others.
Nobody could match HK famous sense of humour and his mastery public speaking.
As Richard Kassman had paid his tribute to HK on his insurance corporate, national and community contribution, I came to know HK better on his two outstanding contributions to our nation.
In the late 70s, I became curious where HK got the mastery public speaking and his famous sense of humour from.
This led to an invitation to join him at the International Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).
I found out the programmes training and development courses contributed to his outstanding sense of humour, public speaking and the leadership he possessed.
I became a member of the Jaycess and four years later found myself not only the national president of the International Junior Chamber of Commerce in PNG but lead the PNG Jayceess to the World Congress in Manila and Taipei.
I also was elected to the famous Lae Chamber of Commerce of which none would have been possible if no HK.
Outside of the office, we met every weekend on the sporting field, HK to his Malagan softball club and me to my favourite Sunam Hockey club.
Couple of years later, we met at sports conferences, HK as the national president of the PNG Softball Federation and me as national president of PNG Hockey Federation.
Our path would cross more often after our presidency term. In 1991, HK and I served on the organising committee of 1991 South Pacific Games. HK, when in his term and association with PNG Sports Federation and National Olympic Committee contributed enormously to sports development of this nation.
He was a member of the task force that put the national sports policy in place.
In my time as the chief executive officer of the PNG Sports Commission, I found his contribution as a commissioner on the board very fruitful.
I will not forget the year 1969 when HK toured Sydney with his famous Delebou band. I was in the audience at the University of NSW Round House We will also miss you, HK.