In the class of Nelson Mandela, are a very few who did not get there through privilege of any sort, instead, they got there by struggle and sacrifice which has forced the history of south Africa to correct itself. In that class is Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The World over, just as Nelson Mandela is synonymous to struggle, freedom, sacrifice, and South Africa, so too is Desmond Tutu. Tutu is known as a social activist and preacher.
To many, after the fight for the freedom of South Africa, Tutu still remains a fighter for freedom of humanity, and a champion against diseases, injustice, and poverty of all sorts.
Biography of Desmond Tutu
Tutu was born Desmond Mpilo Tutu in 1931 in Klerksdorp, as the second child in the family of four children.
Growing up, Tutu was opened to the sufferings of blacks, which would influence his later life greatly. He attended the College of Pretoria Bantu Normal from 1951 to 1953 and graduated with a Diploma in Teaching.
He chose to teach after his dreams to be a doctor was impaired by how expensive it was. He resigned from his teaching job in 1957 and made it to the St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg. He graduated as an Anglican priest with his ordination in 1961 and got his masters in theology from King’s College London in 1966.
Desmond Tutu served as the bishop of Lesotho, after which he became the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He utilized the office to bring to note the plight of black South Africans, stressing on a non-violent struggle. In 1984 he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
He became the first black Anglican bishop in 1985. The next year he became the archbishop of Cape Town, making him the primate of Anglican Church in the country. 10 years later, he retired and became archbishop emeritus.
Tutu got married to his wife, Nomalizo Leah Shenxane in 1955. They have four children.
South African Apartheid
As a Black, Tutu found himself in the “wrong” side of the divide during the apartheid in South Africa. The divide where he found himself with other blacks was the oppressed side facing much injustice. This forced him to seek for equality and justice as well as rights in the country.
During the apartheid period, Tutu took his time out to create awareness on the conditions of blacks as well as educating on how blacks could liberate themselves and get their rights. He as well pushed forward for the reconciliation of all parties in the apartheid.
His most popular engagement in the struggle was his support for an economic boycott against South Africa. When the government adopted Afrikaans as a compulsory language in the country, he organized protests that saw over 30 thousand people participating in Cape Town.
After a protest march, Tutu was once arrested in 1980. While he was not reserved in his fight against apartheid, he was as well not reserved in ensuring and promoting a non-violent approach towards securing the country’s freedom. Because of its often use of violence, the bishop had some reservations for the African National Congress, which was at the forefront against the apartheid regime.
Even after the country was free of apartheid, Desmond Tutu kept working for equality, good governance, end of corruption and other issues affecting the country. In 2014, he said he would no more vote in ANC elections as a result of failed governance. He cites inequality, violence, and corruptions as the drive behind his decision
Bishop Tutu has attracted controversies as a result of his stance on various issues. The major of this is his stance in the case of homosexuality.
While his support for homosexuality has won him condemnation, he was criticized more for things he said as regards the matter, including him saying homophobia is like racism. He as well stated that if God was homophobic he wouldn’t worship god while criticizing the church for its stance against homosexuality.
His daughter Mpho Tutu, who was an Anglican priest, lost her place in the church when she married a woman in 2016.
Tutu has as well attracted criticisms as a result of his support for assisted death. The Bishop argued that the church must consider supporting people who are terminally ill and wish to end their lives. He insisted that when his time comes, he wouldn’t want to be kept alive at all cost, as people must be given a right to die with dignity.
Bishop Desmond Tutu has won various awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (1984). He also won Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism (1986), Sydney Peace Prize (1999), Gandhi Peace Prize (2007), US Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), Mo Ibrahim Foundation for “speaking truth to power” (2012), and Templeton Prize (2013).
In 2000, he began the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. The foundation was aimed at raising funds for the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre. In 2001 he launched the Foundation in the USA with the core of working with universities around the world towards creating leadership academies, emphasizing peace, social justice, and reconciliation.
He is a patron of the American Harmony Child Foundation, South African Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation
He has written various books. These include of sermon as well as of other things. He has as well co-authored and contributed to other works.
Popular Desmond Tutu Quotes
- “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”.
- “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”
- “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies”.