- Tutu, Desmond
- (b. 1931)Anglican leader who helped overturn apartheid in South AfricaDesmond Tutu was born on October 7, 1931, at Klerksdorp, Transvaal. He was educated at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and the University of South Africa and became a high school teacher. However, he pursued studies in theology and was ordained to the priesthood in 1960.Tutu continued his education in England (1962-66), receiving divinity and theology degrees from Kings College, Cambridge University. Returning to his homeland, he taught theology at the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice and at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. On a second visit to England, he served for three years as the associate director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches.Starting in the 1970s, he began to break down many of the barriers keeping black people out of church leadership in South Africa. In 1975, he was the first black appointed dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg. The next year, he was elected as a bishop and served two years as head of the diocese of Lesotho. In 1978, he became the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC).Tutu turned the SACC into his forum and used his position there (1978-85) to speak out against apartheid and assist the victims of the South African system. Though many of the all-white churches withdrew, SACC became a singularly important voice of South African Christianity. Attempting to silence him, the South African government denied him the right to travel internationally, but relented in the face of international criticism. In 1984, Archbishop Tutu was given the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his fight against racism.Following the disintegration of the apartheid system, Tutu was showered with a series of honors. In 1985, he was elected bishop of Johannesburg and the following year became archbishop of Cape Town. In 1987, he became president of the All African Conference of Churches and a fellow of Kings College.Through the 1990s, Tutu was a principal voice of reconciliation during the process of government changes that brought President Nelson Mandela to office in South Africa. In December 1995, Mandela appointed Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.Tutu retired from the office of archbishop of Cape Town in 1996. He remains a voice calling for cooperation between the various segments of South African society and for an end to the violence and corruption that continues to haunt the country in the post-apartheid era.Further reading:■ Shirley du Boulay, Tutu, Voice of the Voiceless (London: Penguin Books, 1989)■ Dickson Mungazi, In the Footsteps of the Masters: Desmond M. Tutu and Abel T. Muzorewa (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000)■ Buti Tlhagale, Hammering Swords into Ploughshares: Essays in Honor of Archbishop Mpilo Desmond Tutu, ed. by Buti Tlhagale and Itume-leng Mosala (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerd-mans, 1986)■ Desmond Tutu, Crying in the Wilderness: The Struggle for Justice in South Africa, ed. by John Webster. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1982)■ ----, The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution, ed. by John Allen (New York: Doubleday, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.