Wednesday, January 19

Tutu insisted on taking on the Castle when he came to Norway. It had a very special reason.

When Trond Bakkevig met Desmond Tutu in Oslo for the first time, something special happened. Tutu insisted on touching the Castle.

During the Peace Prize ceremony in 1984, a bomb threat came against the University’s auditorium and everyone had to evacuate. Out on the stairs for ten minus, Bakkevig and Tutu stood.

On Sunday morning, retired priest Trond Bakkevig was awakened by his wife with the news that Desmond Tutu was dead.

– It was not unexpected. I have known throughout the autumn that he has been very bad, says the former Secretary General of the Interchurch Council, who has met Tutu several times in Norway and in South Africa for many years.

Throughout the pandemic, Bakkevig and Tutu have participated in a digital international communion service together, but lately the former archbishop has not been able to keep quiet.

– I knew it was coming to an end.

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Celebrated all over the world

On Christmas Day, 90-year-old former Peace Prize winner and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu died.

Tutu died in Cape Town, where he lived most of his life. He fought against the apartheid regime which stood for a racial segregation policy where whites and blacks had to live separately and had different rights in South Africa from 1948-1994.

Now Desmond Tutu is being hailed around the world. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says in a statement that the country is now in mourning.

Desmond Tutu was an unparalleled patriot. A principled and pragmatic leader, he says.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) writes on Facebook that Tutu was a “big little man who showed the power of reconciliation and forgiveness”. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson says he is deeply saddened. Johnson describes Tutu as crucial in the fight against apartheid and in creating a new South Africa.

Bishop Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1984. Here from the presentation in the University’s auditorium, chairman of the Nobel Committee Egil Aarvik presented the prize.

An icon

Trond Bakkevig was a very important supporter of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in the 80’s. He was general secretary of the Interchurch Council and was part of the hosts in Oslo when Tutu received the Peace Prize in 1984.

Bakkevig and Tutu therefore became well known. He describes Tutu as a man who was never afraid to fight those in power. And who wanted all people to be treated equally.

– He was next to Nelson Mandela, an icon associated with the liberation from apartheid. He managed to stay away from prison and became a gathering figure, says Bakkevig.

Tutu was an independent voice. He was not always popular with those in power and was just as critical no matter who ruled. Among other things, he criticized former President Jacob Zuma for corruption and was disappointed with the development in his own country.

– He was never afraid to criticize new rulers. One could always know that he was on the side of the oppressed, he says.

Bakkevig says that humor was an important tool for Tutu and that he believed that humor and faith in God belong together.

– I remember he said how ridiculous it would be if God made a difference whether a person had brown or white skin.

Trond Bakkevig and Desmond Tutu met several times both in Norway and in South Africa.

Wanted to touch the Castle

The first time the two met was in the spring of 1984 in Oslo. They were to go from a hotel in the city center and up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But Tutu insisted on taking a detour up the Castle.

– He so wanted to touch the Castle. It was completely impossible to walk up to such an official building for black people in South Africa.

Tutu went up to the Castle, took the corner of the building to the right and rejoiced that it was possible to get so close to such a building.

Then Bakkevig said to Tutu:

– The next time you come here, you will probably be inside the building.

– And I was right about that. He won the Peace Prize the same year.

Everyone had to leave the University’s auditorium during the award ceremony in 1984 after a man called in a bomb threat.

Directed the ceremony

When Tutu was to receive the Peace Prize on December 11 that year, a bomb threat was called in. The ceremony was interrupted and everyone evacuated. Bakkevig says that he and Tutu stayed on the stairs outside for a long time in minus ten degrees. When they were allowed to re-enter the auditorium, the Broadcasting Orchestra was no longer present to play during the ceremony.

Bakkevig says that Tutu therefore asked all South Africans to go up on stage as listeners to his speech. And afterwards they sang the official anthem of the African National Congress (ANC) which had become a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement.

– It was a very special and memorable experience.

The ceremony was interrupted and everyone was evacuated to the stairs. Storting representative Reiulf Steen and then general secretary of the Interchurch Council Trond Bakkevig on the left in the crowd.

Need more symbols

Tutu has not had a public role in recent years, but has been an important symbol and role model for the church.

After receiving the Peace Prize, Tutu was clear that in the fight for human dignity, religions and religious leaders must stand together.

– We need some people like him. With integrity and courage, says Trond Bakkevig.

He says that it was Tutu who taught him how the church should handle political issues.

– By focusing on human dignity and justice.

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