Home Spirit Inspirational People Desmond Tutu - South Africa's moral conscience (Bio and Video)
Desmond Tutu - South Africa's moral conscience (Bio and Video) PDF Print E-mail
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Tutu Desmond 
 
"God's dream comes to flower when everyone who claims to be wholly innocent relinquishes that illusion, when everyone who places absolute blame on another renounces that lie, and when differing stories are told at last as one shared story of human aspiration. God's dream ends in healing and reconciliation. Its finest fruit is human wholeness flourishing in a moral universe."

~Desmond Tutu
 
 
 
Anglican priest Desmond Mpilo Tutu is chairman of The Elders. He was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal in South Africa. The family moved to Johannesburg when he was 12, and he attended Johannesburg Bantu High School. Although he had planned to become a physician, his parents could not afford to send him to medical school. Tutu's father was a teacher, he himself trained as a teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College, and graduated from the University of South Africa in 1954. 

On 2 July 1955, Tutu married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane, a teacher whom he had met while at college. They had four children: Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu.

Since 1948, the National Party had risen to power on the promise of instituting a system of apartheid -- complete separation of the races. All South Africans were legally assigned to an official racial group; each races was restricetd to separate living areas and separate public facilities. When the government ordained a deliberately inferior system of education for black students, Desmond Tutu refused to cooperate. He could no longer work as a teacher, but he was determined to do something to improve the life of his disenfranchised people. On the advice of his bishop, he began to study for the Anglican priesthood and was ordained as a priest in 1960. 

Desmond Tutu lived in England from 1962 to 1966, where he earned a master's degree in theology. He taught theology in South Africa for the next five years, and returned to England to serve as an assistant director of the World Council of Churches in London. In 1975 he became the first black African to serve as Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho. In 1978 he became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and was soon well-known internationally for his commitment to non-violence and for his support for economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

Tutu was also harsh in his criticism of the violent tactics of some anti-apartheid groups such as the African National Congress and denounced terrorism and Communism. When a new constitution was proposed for South Africa in 1983 to defend against the anti-apartheid movement, Tutu helped form the National Forum Committee to fight the constitutional changes.

In 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the struggle against apartheid.

Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela who was released after almost 27 years in prison. The following year the government began the repeal of racially discriminatory laws.

Tutu and MandelaAfter the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and was made emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, an honorary title that is unusual in the Anglican church.

Tutu also campaigns to fight AIDS, homophobia, poverty and racism. Besides receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, he also received the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005.

Since his retirement, Tutu has worked as a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom and human rights. In 2006, Tutu launched a global campaign, organised by Plan, to ensure that all children were registered at birth, as an unregistered child did not officially exist and was vulnerable to traffickers and during disasters.

He frequently joins and initiates actions with his fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Dalai Lama.  

On 18 July 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Tutu convened The Elders, a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems.

Tutu is widely regarded as "South Africa's moral conscience" and has been described by former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, as "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu's voice will always be the voice of the voiceless". 
 
Tutu and Dalai Lama 
 
 
“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.” 
~Desmond Tutu 
 
Below: Desmond Tutu telling the Nativity Story.

 
 

 

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