myAfrica BETA

User Guidelines | Account/Register | Get Help
Desmond Mpilo Tutu

South Africa

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born October 1931.He is a South African activist and Christian cleric who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.

More by user: sncube
Created: 8th Oct 2010
Modified: 8th Oct 2010
Professional Information

Description of Work:

Bishop of Lesotho
Bishop of Johannesburg
Archbishop of Cape Town

Biographical Information
Desmond Mpilo Tutu
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Oct/7/1931
Place of Origin: South Africa

Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal on 7 October 1931, the second of the three children of Zacheriah Zililo Tutu and his wife, Aletta, and the only son. Tutu's family moved to Johannesburg when he was twelve. His father was a teacher and his mother a cleaner and cook at a school for the blind. Here he met Trevor Huddleston who was a parish priest in the black slum of Sophiatown. "One day," said Tutu, "I was standing in the street with my mother when a white man in a priest's clothing walked past. As he passed us he took off his hat to my mother. I couldn't believe my eyes – a white man who greeted a black working class woman!"

Although Tutu wanted to become a physician, his family could not afford the training, and he followed his father's footsteps into teaching. Tutu studied at the Pretoria Bantu Normal College from 1951 to 1953, and went on to teach at Johannesburg Bantu High School and at Munsienville High School in Mogale City. However, he resigned following the passage of the Bantu Education Act, in protest of the poor educational prospects for black South Africans. He continued his studies, this time in theology, at St Peter's Theology College in Rosettenville, Johannesburg and in 1960 was ordained as an Anglican priest following in the footsteps of his mentor and fellow activist, Trevor Huddleston.

Tutu then travelled to King's College London, (1962–1966), where he received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Theology. During this time he worked as a part-time curate, first at St. Alban's Church, Golders Green, and then at St. Mary's Church in Bletchingley, Surrey. He later returned to South Africa and from 1967 until 1972 used his lectures to highlight the circumstances of the African population. He wrote a letter to Prime Minister B. J. Vorster, in which he described the situation in South Africa as a "powder barrel that can explode at any time": the letter was never answered. He became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare in 1967, a hotbed of dissent and one of the few quality universities for African students in the southern part of Africa. From 1970 to 1972, Tutu lectured at the National University of Lesotho.

In 1972, Tutu returned to the UK, where he was appointed vice-director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches, at Bromley in Kent. He returned to South Africa in 1975 and was appointed Anglican Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg - the first black person to hold that position.

Source: Wikipedia


Crying in the Wilderness, Eerdmans, 1982.

Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches, Skotaville, 1983.

The Words of Desmond Tutu, Newmarket, 1989.

Worshipping Church in Africa, Duke University Press, 1995.

The Essential Desmond Tutu, David Phillips Publishers, 1997.

No Future without Forgiveness, Doubleday, 1999.

An African Prayerbook, Doubleday, 2000. ISBN 978-0-385-47730-7

God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, Doubleday,2004.

The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution, Doubleday, 1994.


Nobel Peace Prize, Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianis, Gandhi Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom

Topical Focus  » Desmond Mpilo Tutu

Foundation Honours Desmond Tutu

Retired South African archbishop and Nobel peace laureate has been honoured with an award, accompanied by a grant of U.S. 1 million, for being a "scourge of injustice, ready to rock the boat if ...

Blair, Bush Have Case to Answer in Hague - Tutu

South Africa's Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called on the International Criminal Court to try former heads of state, Tony Blair of Britain and George Bush from America, for their role in the ...

More People

South Africa, Art
Zimbabwe, Music, South Africa
South Africa, Government
South Africa, Literature, Australia
Government, Science and Technology, South Africa