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Desmond Tutu

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The Most Reverend
 Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town

Tutu in December 2010
Province Anglican Church of Southern Africa
See Cape Town (retired)
Enthroned 1986
Reign ended 1996
Predecessor Dr. P.W.R. Russell
Successor Dr. Njongonkulu Ndungane
Other posts Bishop of Lesotho
Bishop of Johannesburg
Archbishop of Cape Town
Ordination 1960 as Priest
Personal details
Born (1931-10-07) 7 October 1931

The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist and Christian cleric who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).

Archbishop Tutu has been active in the defense of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He has campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, homophobia, transphobia, poverty and racism. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.

Early life

Desmond Mpilo 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.

Personal life

On 2 July 1955, Tutu married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane, a teacher whom he had met while at college. They had four children: Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, all of whom attended the Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland.

His son, Trevor Tutu, caused a bomb scare at East London Airport in 1989 and was arrested. In 1991, he was convicted of contravening the Civil Aviation Act by falsely claiming there had been a bomb on board a South African Airways' plane at East London Airport. The bomb threat delayed the Johannesburg bound flight for more than three hours, costing South African Airways some R28000. At the time, Trevor Tutu announced his intention to appeal against his sentence, but failed to arrive for the appeal hearings. He forfeited his bail of R15000. He was due to begin serving his sentence in 1993, but failed to hand himself over to prison authorities. He was finally arrested in Johannesburg in August 1997. He applied for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was granted in 1997. He was then released from Goodwood Prison in Cape Town where he had begun serving his three-and-a-half year prison sentence after a court in East London refused to grant him bail.

Naomi Tutu founded the Tutu Foundation for Development and Relief in Southern Africa, based in Hartford, Connecticut. She has followed in her father's footsteps as a human rights activist and is currently a program coordinator for the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Desmond Tutu's other daughter, Mpho Tutu, has also followed in her father's footsteps and in 2004 was ordained an Episcopal priest by her father. She is also the founder and executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage and the chairperson of the board of the Global AIDS Alliance.

In 1997, Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful treatment in the US. He subsequently became patron of the South African Prostate Cancer Foundation which was established in 2007.

Tutu's role during apartheid

In 1976, the protests in Soweto, also known as the Soweto Riots, against the government's use of Afrikaans as a compulsory medium of instruction in black schools became a massive uprising against apartheid. From then on Tutu supported an economic boycott of his country. He vigorously opposed the " constructive engagement" policy of the Reagan administration in the United States, which advocated "friendly persuasion". Tutu rather supported disinvestment, although it hit the poor hardest, for if disinvestment threw blacks out of work, Tutu argued, at least they would be suffering "with a purpose". In 1985, the US and the UK (two primary investors into South Africa) stopped any investments. As a result, disinvestment did succeed, causing the value of the Rand to plunge more than 35 percent, and pressuring the government toward reform. Tutu pressed the advantage and organised peaceful marches which brought 30,000 people onto the streets of Cape Town.

Tutu was Bishop of Lesotho from 1976 until 1978, when he became Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches. From this position, he was able to continue his work against apartheid with agreement from nearly all churches. Through his writings and lectures at home and abroad, Tutu consistently advocated reconciliation between all parties involved in apartheid. Tutu's opposition to apartheid was vigorous and unequivocal, and he was outspoken both in South Africa and abroad. He often compared apartheid to Nazism and Communism; as a result the government twice revoked his passport, and he was jailed briefly in 1980 after a protest march. It was thought by many that Tutu's increasing international reputation and his rigorous advocacy of non-violence protected him from harsher penalties. Tutu was also harsh in his criticism of the violent tactics of some anti-apartheid groups such as the African National Congress and denounced terrorism and Communism.

When a new constitution was proposed for South Africa in 1983 to defend against the anti-apartheid movement, Tutu helped form the National Forum Committee to fight the constitutional changes. Despite his opposition to apartheid, Tutu was criticised for "selective indignation" by his passive attitude towards the coup regime in Lesotho (1970–86), where he had taught from 1970–2 and served as Bishop 1976–1978, leaving just as civil war broke out. This contrasted poorly with the courageous stance of Lesotho Evangelical Church personnel who were murdered.

In 1990, Tutu and the ex-Vice Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape Professor Jakes Gerwel founded the Desmond Tutu Educational Trust. The Trust – established to fund developmental programmes in tertiary education – provides capacity building at 17 historically disadvantaged institutions. Tutu's work as a mediator in order to prevent all-out racial war was evident at the funeral of South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani in 1993. Tutu spurred a crowd of 120,000 to repeat after him the chants, over and over: "We will be free!", "All of us!", "Black and white together!" and finished his speech saying:

"We are the rainbow people of God! We are unstoppable! Nobody can stop us on our march to victory! No one, no guns, nothing! Nothing will stop us, for we are moving to freedom! We are moving to freedom and nobody can stop us! For God is on our side!"

In 1993, Tutu was a patron of the Cape Town Olympic Bid Committee. In 1994, he was an appointed a patron of the World Campaign Against Military and Nuclear Collaboration with South Africa, Beacon Millennium and Action from Ireland. In 1995, he was appointed a Chaplain and Sub-Prelate of the Venerable Order of Saint John by Queen Elizabeth II, and he became a patron of the American Harmony Child Foundation and the Hospice Association of Southern Africa.

Tutu's role since apartheid

The 14th Dalai Lama & Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winners

After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and was made emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, an honorary title that is unusual in the Anglican church He was succeeded by Njongonkulu Ndungane. At a thanksgiving for Tutu upon his retirement as Archbishop in 1996, Nelson Mandela said:

His joy in our diversity and his spirit of forgiveness are as much part of his immeasurable contribution to our nation as his passion for justice and his solidarity with the poor.

Tutu is generally credited with coining the term Rainbow Nation as a metaphor for post-apartheid South Africa after 1994 under African National Congress rule. The expression has since entered mainstream consciousness to describe South Africa's ethnic diversity.

Since his retirement, Tutu has worked as a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom and human rights. In 2006, Tutu launched a global campaign, organised by Plan, to ensure that all children are registered at birth, as an unregistered child did not officially exist and was vulnerable to traffickers and during disasters. Tutu is the Patron of the educational improvement charity, Link Community Development.

Archbishop Tutu has announced he will retire from public life when he turns 79 in October 2010.

"Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family – reading and writing and praying and thinking – too much of my time has been spent at airports and in hotels," the Nobel laureate said in a statement.
"The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses."

Role in South Africa

Tutu is widely regarded as "South Africa's moral conscience" and has been described by former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, as "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu's voice will always be the voice of the voiceless". Since his retirement, Tutu has worked to critique the new South African government. Tutu has been vocal in condemnation of corruption, the ineffectiveness of the ANC-led government to deal with poverty, and the recent outbreaks of xenophobic violence in some townships in South Africa.

After a decade of freedom for South Africa, Tutu was honoured with the invitation to deliver the annual Nelson Mandela Foundation Lecture. On 23 November 2004, Tutu gave an address entitled "Look to the Rock from Which You Were Hewn". This lecture, critical of the ANC-controlled government, stirred a pot of controversy between Tutu and Thabo Mbeki, calling into question "the right to criticise".

Continued economic stratification and political corruption

Tutu made a stinging attack on South Africa's political élite, saying the country was "sitting on a powder keg" because of its failure to alleviate poverty a decade after apartheid's end. Tutu also said that attempts to boost black economic ownership were benefiting only an elite minority, while political "kowtowing" within the ruling ANC was hampering democracy. Tutu asked, "What is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but an elite that tends to be recycled?"

Tutu criticised politicians for debating whether to give the poor an income grant of $16 (£12) a month and said the idea should be seriously considered. Tutu has often spoken in support of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) which has so far been defeated in parliament. After the first round of volleys were fired, South African Press Association journalist, Ben Maclennan reported Tutu's response as: "Thank you Mr President for telling me what you think of me, that I am—a liar with scant regard for the truth, and a charlatan posing with his concern for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed and the voiceless."

Tutu warned of corruption shortly after the re-election of the African National Congress government of South Africa, saying that they "stopped the gravy train just long enough to get on themselves." In August 2006 Tutu publicly urged Jacob Zuma, the South African politician (now President) who had been accused of sexual crimes and corruption, to drop out of the ANC's presidential succession race. He said in a public lecture that he would not be able to hold his "head high" if Zuma became leader after being accused both of rape and corruption. In September 2006, Tutu repeated his opposition to Zuma's candidacy as ANC leader due to Zuma's "moral failings"."

Attacks on Tutu

The head of the Congress of South African Students condemned Tutu as a "loose cannon" and a "scandalous man" — a reaction which prompted an angry Mbeki to side with Tutu. Zuma's personal advisor responded by accusing Tutu of having double standards and "selective amnesia" (as well as being old). Elias Khumalo claims Tutu "had found it so easy to accept the apology from the apartheid government that committed unspeakable atrocities against millions of South Africans", yet now "cannot find it in his heart to accept the apology from this humble man who has erred". Tutu's public criticism of Zuma is a reflection of a turbulent time in South African politics.

Xenophobic violence in 2008

Tutu has condemned the xenophobic violence which occurred in some parts of South Africa in May 2008. Tutu, who once intervened in the apartheid years to prevent a mob " necklacing" a man, said that when South Africans were fighting against apartheid they had been supported by people around the world and particularly in Africa. Although they were poor, other Africans welcomed South Africans as refugees, and allowed liberation movements to have bases in their territory even if it meant those countries were going to be attacked by the South African Defence force. Tutu called on South Africans to end the violence as thousands of refugees have sought refuge in shelters.

Chairman of The Elders

On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Tutu convened The Elders, a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, kindness, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. Mandela announced its formation in a speech on his 89th birthday. Tutu is serving as its Chair. Other founding members include Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, Muhammad Yunus and Aung San Suu Kyi, whose chair was left symbolically empty due to her confinement as a political prisoner in Burma.

"This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken,” Mandela commented. “Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair." The Elders will be independently funded by a group of Founders, including Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, Ray Chambers, Michael Chambers, Bridgeway Foundation, Pam Omidyar, Humanity United, Amy Robbins, Shashi Ruia, Dick Tarlow and the United Nations Foundation.

Role in the Developing World

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gets an HIV test on The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation's Tutu Tester, a mobile test unit that brings healthcare right to your doorstep

Tutu has focused on drawing awareness to issues such as poverty, AIDS and non-democratic governments in the Third World. In particular he has focused on issues in Zimbabwe and Palestine. Tutu also led The Elders' first mission to travel to Sudan in September–October 2007 to foster peace in the Darfur crisis. "Our hope is that we can keep Darfur in the spotlight and spur on governments to help keep peace in the region," said Tutu.


Tutu has been vocal in his criticism of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe as well as the South African government's policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe. In 2007 he said the "quiet diplomacy" pursued by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) had "not worked at all" and he called on Britain and the West to pressure SADC, including South Africa, which was chairing talks between President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, to set firm deadlines for action, with consequences if they were not met. Tutu has often criticized Robert Mugabe in the past and he once described the autocratic leader as "a cartoon figure of an archetypical African dictator". In 2008, he called for the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe – by force if necessary. Mugabe, on the other hand, has called Tutu an "angry, evil and embittered little bishop".

We Africans should hang our heads in shame. How can what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit hardly a word of concern let alone condemnation from us leaders of Africa? After the horrible things done to helpless people in Harare, has come the recent crackdown on members of the opposition ... what more has to happen before we who are leaders, religious and political, of our mother Africa are moved to cry out "Enough is enough?"

Tutu has often stated that all leaders in Africa should condemn Zimbabwe: "What an awful blot on our copy book. Do we really care about human rights, do we care that people of flesh and blood, fellow Africans, are being treated like rubbish, almost worse than they were ever treated by rabid racists?" After the Zimbabwean presidential elections in April 2008, Tutu expressed his hope that Mugabe would step down after it was initially reported that Mugabe had lost the elections. Tutu reiterated his support of the democratic process and hoped that Mugabe would adhere to the voice of the people:

That is democracy. Democracy is, you change government when people decide. I mean when your time is over, your time is over. We hope the transition will be a peaceful one, relatively peaceful, and that Mr Mugabe will step down with dignity, gracefully.

Tutu called Mugabe "someone we were very proud of", as he "did a fantastic job, and it’s such a great shame, because he had a wonderful legacy. If he had stepped down ten or so years ago he would be held in very, very high regard. And I still want to say we must honour him for the things that he did do, and just say what a shame."

Tutu stated that he feared that riots would break out in Zimbabwe if the election results were ignored. He proposed that a peace-keeping force should be sent to the region to ensure stability.

Anything that would save the possibilities of bloodshed, of conflict, I am quite willing to support. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough, and we don’t...want any more possibilities of bloodshed. In a fraught situation such as we have had in Zimbabwe, anything that is helping towards a move, a transition, from the repression to the possibilities of democracy and freedom, oh, for goodness sake, please let us accept that.

Solomon Islands

In 2009, Tutu assisted in the establishing of the Solomon Islands' Truth and Reconciliation Commission, modelled after the South African body of the same name. He spoke at its official launch in Honiara on April 29 2009, emphasising the need for forgiveness in order to build lasting peace.


Tutu has acknowledged the significant role Jews played in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa and has voiced support for Israel's security concerns, speaking against suicide bombing. He is also an active and prominent proponent of the campaign for divestment from Israel, likening Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the treatment of Black South Africans under apartheid. Tutu drew this comparison on a Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989, when he said that he is a "black South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa." He made similar comments in 2002, speaking of "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about".

In 1988, the American Jewish Committee noted that Tutu was strongly critical of Israel's military and other connections with apartheid-era South Africa, and quoted him as saying that Zionism has "very many parallels with racism", on the grounds that it "excludes people on ethnic or other grounds over which they have no control". While the AJC was critical of some of Tutu's views, it dismissed "insidious rumours" that he had made anti-Semitic statements. (The exact wording of Tutu's statement was reported differently in different sources. A Toronto Star article from the period indicates that he described Zionism "as a policy that looks like it has many parallels with racism, the effect is the same.")

Tutu preached a message of forgiveness during a 1989 trip to Israel's Yad Vashem museum, saying "Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come is the spirit of forgiving, not forgetting, but the spirit of saying: God, this happened to us. We pray for those who made it happen, help us to forgive them and help us so that we in our turn will not make others suffer." Some found this statement offensive, with Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre calling it "a gratuitous insult to Jews and victims of Nazism everywhere." Tutu was subjected to racial slurs during this visit to Israel, with vandals writing "Black Nazi pig" on the walls of the St. George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem, where he was staying.

In 2002, when delivering a public lecture in support of divestment, Tutu said "My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?" He argued that Israel could never live in security by oppressing another people, and stated, "People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists." The latter statement was criticized by some Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League. When he edited and reprinted parts of his speech in 2005, Tutu replaced the words "Jewish lobby" with "pro-Israel lobby".

US attorney Alan Dershowitz referred to Tutu as a "racist and a bigot" during the controversial Durban II conference in April 2009, because of Tutu's criticism of Israel.

Palestinian Christians

In 2003, Tutu accepted the role as patron of Sabeel International, a Christian liberation theology organization which supports the concerns of the Palestinian Christian community and has actively lobbied the international Christian community for divestment from Israel. In the same year, Archbishop Tutu received an International Advocate for Peace Award from the Cardozo School of Law, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, sparking scattered student protests and condemnations from representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Anti-Defamation League. A 2006 opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post newspaper described him as "a friend, albeit a misguided one, of Israel and the Jewish people". The Zionist Organization of America has led a campaign to protest Tutu's appearances at North American campuses.


Tutu was appointed as the UN Lead for an investigation into the Israeli bombings in the Beit Hanoun November 2006 incident. Israel refused Tutu's delegation access so the investigation didn't occur until 2008.

During that fact-finding mission, Tutu called the Gaza blockade an abomination and compared Israel's behaviour to the military junta in Burma.

During the 2008–2009 Gaza War, Tutu called the Israeli offensive "war crimes".

US Protests against Tutu

In 2007, the president of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota cancelled a planned speech from Tutu, on the grounds that his presence might offend some members of the local Jewish community. Many faculty members opposed this decision, and with some describing Tutu as the victim of a smear campaign. The group Jewish Voice for Peace led an email campaign calling on St. Thomas to reconsider its decision, which the president did and invited Tutu to campus. Tutu declined the re-invitation, speaking instead at the Minneapolis Convention Centre at an event hosted by Metro State University. However, Tutu later addressed the issue two days later while making his final appearance at Metro State.

“There were those who tried to say ‘Tutu shouldn’t come to [St.Thomas] to speak.’ I was 10,000 miles away and I thought to myself, ‘Ah, no,’ because there were many here who said ‘No, come and speak,’” Tutu said. “People came and stood and had demonstrations to say ‘Let Tutu speak.’ [Metropolitan State] said ‘Whatever, he can come and speak here.’ Professor Toffolo and others said ‘We stand for him.’ So let us stand for them."


Tutu wrote to the Chinese government demanding the release of dissident Yang Jianli in 2007. He criticized China for not doing more against the Darfur genocide. During the 2008 Tibetan unrest, Tutu praised the 14th Dalai Lama and said that the government of China should "listen to [his] pleas for... no further violence". He later spoke to a rally calling on heads of states worldwide to not attend the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony "for the sake of the beautiful people of Tibet".

United Nations role

In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He was named a member of the UN advisory panel on genocide prevention in 2006.

However, Tutu has also criticised the UN, particularly on the issue of West Papua. Tutu expressed support for the West Papuan independence movement, criticizing the United Nations' role in the takeover of West Papua by Indonesia. Tutu said: "For many years the people of South Africa suffered under the yoke of oppression and apartheid. Many people continue to suffer brutal oppression, where their fundamental dignity as human beings is denied. One such people is the people of West Papua."

Tutu was named to head a United Nations fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, where, in a November 2006 incident the Israel Defense Forces killed 19 civilians after troops wound up a week-long incursion aimed at curbing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the town. Tutu planned to travel to the Palestinian territory to "assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors and make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli assaults," according to the president of the UN Human Rights Council, Luis Alfonso De Alba. Israeli officials expressed concern that the report would be biased against Israel. Tutu cancelled the trip in mid-December, saying that Israel had refused to grant him the necessary travel clearance after more than a week of discussions. However, Tutu and British academic Christine Chinkin are now due to visit the Gaza Strip via Egypt and will file a report at the September 2008 session of the Human Rights Council.

Political views

He is a supporter of the magazine New Internationalist, which campaigns for social and environmental justice worldwide.

Against poverty

Before the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, Tutu called on world leaders to promote free trade with poorer countries. Tutu also called on an end to expensive taxes on anti-AIDS drugs. Tutu said:

"I would hope they would begin to say, 'lets to do something about subsidies'. You ask the so-called-developing world, 'Why can't you people produce more?' – and they produce – and then they find that the markets have barriers that are put down or are clobbered twice over."

Following this summit, the G8 leaders promised to increase aid to developing countries by $48bn a year by 2010. Further, they gave their word of honour that they would do the best they could to achieve universal access to prevention and treatment for the millions and millions of people globally threatened by HIV/AIDS.

Before the 32nd G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany in 2007, Tutu called on the G8 to focus on poverty in the Third World. Following the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, it appeared that world leaders were determined as never before to set and meet specific goals regarding extreme poverty.

Against unilateralism

In January 2003, Tutu attacked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance in supporting American President George W. Bush over Iraq. The alliance of Britain and the United States of America led to the outbreak of the Iraq War later that year. Tutu asked why Iraq was being singled out when Europe, India and Pakistan also had weapons of mass destruction. Tutu demanded:

"When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in? I just hope that one day that people will realise that peace is a far better path to follow. Many, many of us are deeply saddened to see a great country such as the United States aided and abetted extraordinarily by Britain. I have a great deal of time for your prime minister but I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally. The United States says you do this to the world, if you don't do it we will do it – that's sad."

In October 2004, Tutu appeared in a play at Off Broadway, New York, called Guantanamo – Honour-bound to Defend Freedom. This play was highly critical of the US handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Tutu played Lord Justice Steyn, a judge who questions the legal justification of the detention regime.

In January 2005, Tutu added his voice to the growing dissent over terrorist suspects held at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, referring to detentions without trial as "utterly unacceptable." Tutu compared these detentions to those under Apartheid. Tutu also emphasised that when South Africa had used those methods the country had been condemned, however when powerful countries such as Britain and the United States of America had invoked such power, the world was silent and in that silence accepted their methods even though they violated essential human rights. Tutu said:

"The rule of law is in order to ensure that those who have power don't use their power arbitrarily and every person retains their human rights until you have proven conclusively that so-and-so is in fact guilty. Whilst we are saying thank you that these have been released, what is happening to those left behind? We in South Africa used to have a dispensation that detained people without trial and the world quite rightly condemned that as unacceptable. Now if it was unacceptable then how come it can be acceptable to Britain and the United States. It is so, so deeply distressing. I am opposed to any arbitrary detention that is happening, even in Britain."

In February 2006, Tutu repeated these statements after a UN report was published which called for the closure of the camp. Tutu stated that the Guantanamo Bay camp was a stain on the character of the United States, while the legislation in Britain which gave a 28-day detention period for terror suspects was "excessive" and "untenable". Tutu pointed out that similar arguments were being made in Britain and the United States which the South African apartheid regime had used. "It is disgraceful and one cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted," said Tutu. Tutu also attacked Tony Blair's failed attempt to hold terrorist suspects in Britain for up to 90 days without charge. "Ninety days for a South African is an awful déjà-vu because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention law," he said. Under apartheid, as at Guantanamo Bay, people were held for "unconscionably long periods" and then released, he said. Tutu stated:

"Are you able to restore to those people the time when their freedom was denied them? If you have evidence for goodness sake produce it in a court of law. People with power have an incredible capacity for wanting to be able to retain that power and don't like scrutiny."

In 2007, Tutu stated that the global "war on terror" could not be won if people were living in desperate conditions. Tutu said that the global disparity between rich and poor people creates instability.

"You can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate – poverty, disease, ignorance, et cetera. I think people are beginning to realize that you can't have pockets of prosperity in one part of the world and huge deserts of poverty and deprivation and think that you can have a stable and secure world."

Against HIV/AIDS and TB

Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation

Tutu has been a tireless campaigner for health and human rights, and has been particularly vocal in support of controlling TB and HIV. He is Patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, a registered Section 21 non-profit organization, and has served as the honorary chairman for the Global AIDS Alliance and is patron of TB Alert, a UK charity working internationally. In 2003 the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre was founded in Cape Town, while the Desmond Tutu TB Centre was founded in 2003 at Stellenbosch University. Tutu suffered from TB in his youth and has been active in assisting those afflicted, especially as TB and HIV/AIDS deaths have become intrinsically linked in South Africa. “Those of you who work to care for people suffering from AIDS and TB are wiping a tear from God’s eye,” Tutu said.

On 20 April 2005, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Tutu said he was sad that the Roman Catholic Church was unlikely to change its opposition to condoms amidst the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa: "We would have hoped for someone more open to the more recent developments in the world, the whole question of the ministry of women and a more reasonable position with regards to condoms and HIV/AIDS."

In 2007, statistics were released that indicated HIV and AIDS numbers were lower than previously thought in South Africa. However, Tutu named these statistics "cold comfort" as it was unacceptable that 600 people died of AIDS in South Africa every day. Tutu also rebuked the government for wasting time by discussing what caused HIV/AIDS, which particularly attacks Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for their denialist stance.

Church reform

In 2002, Tutu called for a reform of the Anglican Communion in regard to how its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is chosen. The ultimate appointment is made by the British Prime Minister and thus Tutu said that the selection process will be properly democratic and representative only when the link between church and state is broken. In February 2006 Tutu took part in the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. There he manifested his commitment to ecumenism and praised the efforts of Christian churches to promote dialogue to diminish their differences. For Tutu, "a united church is no optional extra."

The Bible

Tutu says he still reads the Bible every day and recommends that people read it as a collection of books, not a single constitutional document: "You have to understand is that the Bible is really a library of books and it has different categories of material," he said. "There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn't accept."

Gay rights

In the debate about Anglican views of homosexuality, he has opposed Christian discrimination against homosexuals while suggesting homosexual church leaders should currently remain celibate. Commenting days after the 5 August 2003 election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Tutu said, "In our Church here in South Africa, that doesn't make a difference. We just say that at the moment, we believe that they should remain celibate and we don't see what the fuss is about." Tutu has remarked that it is sad the Church is spending time disagreeing on sexual orientation "when we face so many devastating problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and conflict".

Tutu has increased his criticism of conservative attitudes to homosexuality within his own church, equating homophobia with racism. Stating at a conference in Nairobi that he is "deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'". In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on 18 November 2007, Tutu accused the church of being obsessed with homosexuality and declared: "If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God."

Tutu has lent his name to the fight against homophobia in Africa and around the world. He stated at the launching of the book 'Sex, Love and Homophobia' that homophobia is a 'crime against humanity' and 'every bit as unjust' as apartheid. He added that "we struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins...It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given."

Women's rights

On 8 March 2009, Desmond Tutu joined the campaign "Africa for women's rights" launched by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Women's Aid Collective (WACOL), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), Women and Law in South Africa (WLSA) and hundred other African human rights and women's rights organisations. This campaign for the fulfilment of women's human rights, and the end of violence and discrimination against women, aims to generate mass mobilisation and draw maximum attention, in order to increase pressure on African States to ratify the international and regional women's human rights protection instruments, without reservation, and to respect them, in domestic laws and in practice.

In 1994, Tutu said that he approved of artificial contraception and that abortion was acceptable in a number of situations, such as incest and rape. He specifically welcomed the aims of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

Climate Change

Desmond Tutu was at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. He made a speech in front of many at the event. Tutu is also a 'Climate Ally' in the 'tck tck tck Time for Climate Justice' campaign of the Global Humanitarian Forum. Mr. Tutu is a messenger.

Other humanitarian initiatives

In 2009 Tutu joined the project "Soldiers of Peace", a movie against all wars and for a global peace.

Also in 2009, along with prominent chefs and celebrities like Daniel Boulud and Jean Rochefort, Desmond Tutu endorsed Action Against Hunger's No Hunger Campaign calling on the former Vice-President Al Gore to make a documentary film about world hunger.

Academic role

Tutu delivering the keynote address at the University of the Western Cape's New Member Recognition Event, 2009

In 1998, he was appointed as the Robert R Woodruff Visiting Professor at Emory University, Atlanta. He returned to Emory University the following year as the William R Cannon Visiting Distinguished Professor. In 2000, he founded the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation to raise funds for the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town. The following year he launched the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation USA, which is designed to work with universities nationwide to create leadership academies emphasising peace, social justice and reconciliation.

In 2001, the Desmond Tutu Educational Trust, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, launched the Desmond Tutu Footprints of the Legends Awards to recognise leadership in combating prejudice, human rights, research and poverty eradication. Since 2004, he has been a Visiting Professor at King's College London. In 2007 and in 2010, he joined 600 college students and sailed around the world with the Semester at Sea programme.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu co-chairs 1GOAL Education for All campaign which was launched by Queen Rania of Jordan in August 2009 which aims to secure schooling for some 72 million children world-wide who cannot afford it, in accordance with the Millennium Goal Promise of education for all by 2015 giving them an opportunity to get education through the FIFA 1Goal campaign.


In the ongoing effort to research the diversity of the human genome Archbishop Tutu donated some of his own cells to the project. It was sequenced as an example for a Bantu individual representing Sotho-Tswana and Nguni speakers (publication: February 2010).

One Young World

Desmond Tutu has signed up to be one of the Counsellors at One Young World – a non-profit organization which hopes to bring together 1500 young global leaders of tomorrow from every country in the world.


Tutu at the University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Desmond Tutu at The Faculty of Protestant Theology in Vienna

On 16 October 1984, the then Bishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cited his "role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa". This was seen as a gesture of support for him and The South African Council of Churches which he led at that time. In 1987 Tutu was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. In 1992, he was awarded the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.

In June 1999, Tutu was invited to give the annual Wilberforce Lecture in Kingston upon Hull, commemorating the life and achievements of the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. Tutu used the occasion to praise the people of the city for their traditional support of freedom and for standing with the people of South Africa in their fight against apartheid. He was also presented with the freedom of the city.

In 1978 Tutu was awarded a fellowship of King's College London, of which he is an alumnus. He returned to King's in 2004 as Visiting Professor in Post-Conflict Studies. The Students' Union nightclub, Tutu's, is named in his honour.

In 2006 Tutu was named an honorary patron of the University Philosophical Society, Trinity College, Dublin for his tremendous contributions to peace and discourse.

The freedom of the city award has been conferred on Tutu in cities in Italy, Wales, England and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has received numerous doctorates and fellowships at distinguished universities. He has been named a Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur by France; Germany has awarded him the Order of Merit Grand Cross, and he received the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999. He is also the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize, the King Hussein Prize and the Marion Doenhoff Prize for International Reconciliation and Understanding. In 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois proclaimed 13 May 'Desmond Tutu Day'. On his visit to Illinois, Tutu was awarded the Lincoln Leadership Prize and unveiled his portrait which will be displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

In October 2008, Tutu received the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan in recognition of his life-long work in defense of human rights and dignity.

In November 2008, Tutu was awarded the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

On 8 May 2009, Tutu was the featured speaker during Michigan State University's spring undergraduate convocation. During the commencement, an honorary doctor of humane letters degree was bestowed on Tutu. Two days later, he received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The two schools had coincidentally met in the previous month's NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, a detail not missed by Tutu.

Tutu was awarded an honorary degree from Bangor University, Bangor, Wales, on 10 June 2009. During the ceremony, Tutu thanked the people of Wales for their role in helping end apartheid.

On 12 June 2009 the University of Vienna conferred the degree "Doctor Theologiae honoris causa" on Desmond Tutu. The Faculty of Protestant Theology and Senate based the decision on Tutu's outstanding achievement in developing and establishing what can be called "ubuntu-theology", his manifestation of what became known as "public theology". By integrating the principles of the South African ubuntu philosophy with his theological thinking, he made a major contribution beyond classical Liberation Theology.

Southwark Cathedral named two new varieties of rose in honour of Desmond and Leah Tutu at the 2009 RHS Flower Show at Hampton Court Palace. To celebrate the event, the Southwark Cathedral Merbecke Choir gave a concert in the presence of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah at Southwark Cathedral on 11 July 2009. The Archbishop joined the choir on stage for its encore – an arrangement of George Gershwin's 'Summertime'.

In 2009 he also received the Spiritual Leadership Award from the international Humanity's Team movement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama.

Tutu was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society as an Honorary Member in 2001, by the University of Stellenbosch.

World Justice Project

Desmond Tutu serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project which works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.


Tutu had contributed to the field of social psychology. His writing appeared in Greater Good Magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Centre of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships. His most recent article with Greater Good magazine is titled: "Why to Forgive", which examines how forgiveness is not only personally rewarding, but also politically necessary in allowing South Africa to have a new beginning. However, Tutu states that forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to wrongs; true reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring healing.

Tutu is the author of seven collections of sermons and other writings:

  • Crying in the Wilderness, Eerdmans, 1982. ISBN 978-0-8028-0270-5
  • Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches, Skotaville, 1983. ISBN 978-0-620-06776-8
  • The Words of Desmond Tutu, Newmarket, 1989. ISBN 978-1-55704-719-9
  • Worshipping Church in Africa, Duke University Press, 1995. ASIN B000K5WB02
  • The Essential Desmond Tutu, David Phillips Publishers, 1997. ISBN 978-0-86486-346-1
  • No Future without Forgiveness, Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 978-0-385-49689-6
  • An African Prayerbook, Doubleday, 2000. ISBN 978-0-385-47730-7
  • God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, Doubleday, 2004. ISBN 978-0-385-47784-0
  • The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution, Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 978-0-385-47546-4

Tutu has also co authored numerous books:

  • "Bounty in Bondage: Anglican Church in Southern Africa – Essays in Honour of Edward King, Dean of Cape Town" with Frank England, Torguil Paterson, and Torquil Paterson (1989)
  • "Resistance Art in South Africa" with Sue Williamson (1990)
  • The Rainbow People of God with John Allen (1994)
  • "Freedom from Fear: And Other Writings" with Václav Havel and Aung San Suu Kyi (1995)
  • "Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu" with Michael J. Battle (1997)
  • "Exploring Forgiveness" with Robert D. Enright and Joanna North (1998)
  • "Love in Chaos: Spiritual Growth and the Search for Peace in Northern Ireland" with Mary McAleese (1999)
  • "Race and Reconciliation in South Africa (Global Encounters: Studies in Comparative Political Theory)" with William Vugt and G. Daan Cloete (2000)
  • "South Africa: A Modern History" with T.R.H. Davenport and Christopher Saunders (2000)
  • "At the Side of Torture Survivors: Treating a Terrible Assault on Human Dignity" with Bahman Nirumand, Sepp Graessner and Norbert Gurris (2001)
  • "Place of Compassion" with Kenneth E. Luckman (2001)
  • "Passion for Peace: Exercising Power Creatively" with Stuart Rees (2002)
  • "Out of Bounds (New Windmills)" with Beverley Naidoo (2003)
  • "Fly, Eagle, Fly!" with Christopher Gregorowski and Niki Daly (2003)
  • "Sex, Love and Homophobia: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Lives" with Amnesty International, Vanessa Baird and Grayson Perry (2004)
  • "Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation" with Gustavo Gutierrez and Marc H. Ellis (2004)
  • "Radical Compassion: The Life and Times of Archbishop Ted Scott" with Hugh McCullum (2004)
  • "Third World Health: Hostage to First World Wealth" with Theodore MacDonald (2005)
  • "Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another and Other Lessons from the Desert Fathers" with Rowan Williams (2005)
  • "Health, Trade and Human Rights" with Mogobe Ramose and Theodore H. MacDonald (2006)
  • "The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavours of Africa" with Marcus Samuelsson, Heidi Sacko Walters and Gediyon Kifle (2006)
  • "The Gospel According to Judas WMA: By Benjamin Iscariot" with Jeffrey Archer, Frank Moloney (2007)
  • "Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All The Difference" with Mpho Tutu (2010)
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