Cape Town, Western Cape , South Africa
|| October 07, 1931
|Last Modified||Homegrown Democrat|
Oct 08, 2011 08:17am
African - Internationalist - Pro Environment - Married - Cancer - Anglican - Straight -
|Info||Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame in the 1980s through his opposition to apartheid. He was the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. |
He was born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, and moved with his family to Johannesburg at age 12. Though he wanted to become a physician, his family could not afford this training and he followed his father's footsteps and took up teaching - studying from 1951-1953 and teaching at Johannesburg Bantu High School from 1954 to 1957.
In 1955 he married Leah Nomalizo Tutu. They have four children: Trevor Thamsanqa, Theresa Thandeka, Naomi Nontombi and Mpho Andrea. In protest at poor education prospects for black people at the time, in 1957 Tutu quit teaching and studied theology. In 1961 he was ordained as an Anglican priest, and was chaplain at University of Fort Hare, one of the only good universities open for black students in the southern part of Africa, a hotbed of dissent, and with many subsequent notable alumni.
From 1962 to 1966 he took Bachelor's and Master's degrees at King's College, London. Back in South Africa from 1967 to 1972 as a master of Theology, he used his lectures to highlight the situation of the black population. He wrote a letter to Prime Minister Vorster, in which he described the situation in South Africa as a "powder barrel that can explode at any time". This letter remained unanswered.
From 1972 to 1975, he returned to the UK, where he was the vice-director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches, at Bromley in Kent.
In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black person to hold that position.
In 1976, the pupil and student rebellion in Soweto began. From now on he supported an economic boycott of his country. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches. With that position Tutu could continue his work with agreement of nearly all churches against apartheid, which he did by his publications and journeys abroad. Tutu constantly preached of a reconciliation between both sides.
It is for this pacifist message against Apartheid that he received on October 16, 1984 the Nobel Peace Prize.
Later he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He became the first black person to lead the Anglican Church in South Africa on September 7, 1986.
In 1999 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for his work as Chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Tutu believes the treatment of Palestinians by the Jewish state of Israel is a form of apartheid. He has repeatedly called upon the Israeli government to respect the human dignity of the Palestinian people, whether Muslim or Christian. In 2003 he became the patron of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center located in Jerusalem.
He has also criticised human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, calling Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe a "caricature of an African dictator", and criticising the South African government's policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe.
Commenting days after the August 5, 2003 Episcopal Church gay bishop ordination, Desmond Tutu said that he does not see what "all the fuss" is about: "For us [the Anglican Church in South Africa] that doesn't make a difference, the sexual orientation."
In 2004, Tutu returned to the UK as Visiting Professor in Post-Conflict Societies at King's College London and also to give the Commemoration Oration, as part of the College's 175th anniversary. He also visited the students' union nightclub, named "Tutu's" in his honour and that features a rare bust of his likeness.