Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931, in Transvaal, South Africa. He is one of four children of Zacheriah Zililo Tutu and his wife, Aletta Tutu.
His father was a primary school administrator, while his mother was working as a cook and cleaner at a blind school.
He grew up witnessing how blacks were discriminated against and denied fundamental privileges that whites had.
When he was a youngster, black South Africans were denied the right to vote, and society was strictly divided.
Tutu and his siblings had a rather pleasant upbringing despite the fact that their family was impoverished.
He attended Johannesburg Bantu High School, where he acquired an excellent education and graduated in 1950. His early ambition was to become a doctor, and he got admitted to medical school.
However, he was unable to pursue medicine because of his parents’ financial constraints.
In 1962, he moved to England to finish his theological studies at King’s College London, where he earned his master’s degree in theology in 1966. In 1967, he returned to South Africa.
In 1967, he began teaching at the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice, Eastern Cape, and also became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare. From 1970 to 1972, he taught at the National University of Lesotho.
In 1972, he returned to England and was named vice-director of the World Council of Churches’ Theological Education Fund in Bromley, Kent. He returned to South Africa after serving there for three years.
He was the first black person to be named Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg in 1975.
Tutu was named Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985 and Archbishop of Cape Town the following year, making him the first black person to hold the highest post in the South African Anglican Church.
He was elected president of the All Africa Conference of Churches in 1987 and served in that capacity until 1997.
Apartheid in South Africa was ultimately abolished in 1993, thanks in large part to Tutu’s tireless work and capable leadership. Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president, was elected in 1994, and Tutu was granted the privilege of introducing him to the public.
Following the end of apartheid, President Mandela appointed him to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1996, he stepped down as Archbishop of Cape Town.
After retiring, he worked as a global campaigner on issues of democracy, freedom, and human rights.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu death: What killed Desmond Tutu?
According to Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and coordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, the man died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town. She however didn’t clarify what actually killed him.
Awards won by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his “role as a uniting leading figure in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa.”
He received the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award in 1992.
In 1996, he was the first winner of the newly established Archbishop of Canterbury’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Anglican Communion.
In 2008, he was awarded the Wallenberg Medal by the University of Michigan for his lifetime contributions to the promotion of human rights and dignity. He was also given the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding the same year.