Biography of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond TutuDesmond Tutu, born in 1931 in South Africa, trained to become a teacher, graduating from the University of South Africa in 1954. However, faced with apartheid and an inferior system of education for black students, Archbishop Tutu decided he could not condone these unfair practices, and trained to become a priest in the Anglican Church.


After his ordination in 1960, he lived in England while studying for his Master's degree in theology, and then returned to South Africa to teach theology. Ultimately, he was selected as the Archbishop of Cape Town, the first black African to ever serve in this capacity. He became an outspoken opponent of apartheid in the years after he returned to South Africa from England, equating equal rights with a common education for all South Africans.

Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984 for his work to achieve peace and equality in South Africa. A decorated humanitarian, he has also received the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the Magubela Prize for Liberty and most recently was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize by the government of India.

In 1994, after the first multi-racial elections were held in South Africa, President Nelson Mandela appointed the Archbishop as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee to investigate human rights violations that occurred under the system of apartheid. In his capacity as chair of this committee, and as he had always done, Archbishop Tutu urged his country toward forgiveness and cooperation instead of revenge and further violence.

Archbishop Tutu retired from his position in the church in 1996, leaving him free to teach, travel and continue as an advocate for peace, truth, reconciliation and equality.

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