Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp in the North West Province (formerly Western Transvaal). He attended school in Johannesburg, obtained a teachers’ diploma at the Pretoria Bantu Normal College in 1953 and in 1954 got his B.A. degree through the University of South Africa.
After teaching in Krugersdorp he went for ordination training at St Peter’s Theological College in 1958, and became a deacon in 1960, serving in Benoni Location, and a priest in 1961.
The Tutu family lived in England between 1962 and 1966 during which time Desmond worked as a curate and obtained his BD and Master’s Degree in Theology. Returning to South Africa, he lectured at the Federal Theological Seminary in the Cape and at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland until 1975. Then he had another period in England, working for the World Council of Churches, before becoming the first black Dean at the Cathedral in Johannesburg, 1975-1976.
Archbishop Tutu was consecrated Bishop of Lesotho in 1976 and became General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978. In 1979 he received an honorary doctorate of laws from Harvard University. The government confiscated his passport in reprisal for his call for an international boycott of South African coal in 1980. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to limit international trade and investment activities in South Africa. The Archbishop established the Southern African Refugee Scholarship Fund with his Nobel Peace Prize Fund, enabling disadvantaged students to further their studies.
He became Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, and Archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa in 1986. He has received numerous awards, prizes and honorary degrees from all over the world. His publications include “Crying in the Wilderness”, “Hope and Suffering” (collections of sermons and addresses) and “The Rainbow people of God” which includes biographical material and background narrative by John Allen.
After retiring as Archbishop in 1996 he became Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and presided over the traumatic revelation of the secrets of apartheid. He has now taken up a position as Visiting Professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in the USA.
Archbishop Tutu married Leah Nomaliso in 1955 and they have four children.