Jigme Norbu, the Dalai Lama’s nephew, and Tibetan activist, died last night during the “Walk for Tibet” in Florida.
Norbu was on his 25th mile of the “Walk for Tibet” when he was hit by an SUV along State Road A1A in Palm Coast, Florida. State Highway Patrol Officials say the road was dark and Norbu was walking along the side of the road instead of the sidewalk. The driver has not been charged.
Thupten Anyestang, local Tibetan restaurant owner and friend of the family says Norbu’s death is unexpected.
“Just 3 or 4 days ago I talked with him,” he says. “He [was] walking down in Northern Florida. And then this morning the shocking news makes me really sad. I mean the whole Tibetan community is in shock.”
Norbu ran the Snow Lion restaurant in Bloomington with his mother. IU Tibetan Language Professor Gendun Rabsal calls Norbu a good friend and says he was a leader for the Tibetan community.
“He kind of reenergized the cause of Tibet,” Rabsal said, “Tibet’s independent, women rights, and world peace, all of those kinds of things. He [stood] firmly and I think every time he walks I think he visualizes his father and he kind of continues what his father left over.”
Rabsal also manages a Tibetan news blog. He interviewed Norbu about his mission and upcoming walks a few weeks ago. Norbu told Rabsal he did the walks because he wanted to continue his father’s work to bring independence to Tibet.
“You know I’m merely my hands and feet of my father,” Norbu said, “you know of doing this, and I’m able to physically do this and my dad’s wish is that these walks can happen every month. Every month, that’s what his wish is so I’m just trying to do this as much as I can right now. And hopefully this will touch not only the people of the world but the Tibetans themselves.”
Leaders at Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington are planning a special community prayer service later this week. Norbu leaves behind a wife and three children.