Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Communication among the Greenpeace diaspora [the group of old timers who rarely speak to each others unless there is a real reason] has been quite intense in the last 48 hours, since we learnt that Chris Robinson was about to die of liver cancer. Yesterday for example, Susi Newborn [another early Rainbow Warrior crew member who now lives in New Zealand] sent me this old photo which shows Chris [the tall guy with a beard] with me [the young boy with lots of hair] talking with the captain of a whaling boat we had just boarded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in 1980.

When I woke up this morning, I found an email from Henk Haazen announcing that Chris had passed away, surrounded by relatives in his house in Port Albert, Australia.

Chris was an extraordinary person, really. I am profoundly saddened by his death.

Here is the message I've sent to the website Greenpeace has set up to honour his memory:

I have been thinking of Chris many times this summer (summer is ending now in our part of the world) because it was exactly thirty years ago that the first voyage of the Rainbow Warrior took place.

All of us who were part of it in the summer of 1978 remember that without Chris things would have been very-very different. Quite possibly (I should say most probably) without Chris the Rainbow Warrior would not have taken off. And even if it had taken off, I don't think we'd gone very far without Chris.

I am truly privileged to have a lot of great memories of Chris. The expression "stepping lightly on the Earth" had not been coined at the time. But whenever I read or hear it, it makes me think of Chris quietly walking with his bare feet (he'd almost never wear shoes whatever the weather).

What was most remarkable was that he'd never complain about anything (unlike most of us). A true gentleman, who stepped lightly on the Earth, but very strongly in our lives.

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