The name Desmond Tutu resonates strongly with people all around the world. While his vigorous anti-apartheid activism in his native South Africa first propelled him into the glare of international news media, today he is revered as a “moral voice” to end poverty and human rights abuses. While he is an Anglican Archbishop emeritus and steadfast in his religious beliefs, Tutu places great value on religious inclusiveness and interfaith dialogue.

Born in Klerksdorp, near Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1931, Tutu initially followed his father’s example and obtained teaching qualifications. However, following the introduction of Bantu education in 1958, he decided to enter the ministry. He was ordained in Johannesburg three years later.

Following further theological studies at King’s College in London, Tutu held several positions in teaching and theological work in southern Africa. In 1978, he was persuaded to leave his job as Bishop of Lesotho to become the new General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). In this position, which he held until 1985, Tutu became a national and international figure.

The SACC was committed to fulfilling the social responsibility of the Church, and as its chairperson, Tutu led a formidable crusade in support of justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. His tireless work was recognized in 1984, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, following a short stint as the Bishop of Johannesburg, Tutu was elected Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, an office he held until his retirement in 1996.

While many of Tutu’s critics predicted that he would enter government, he never did. Instead, he became a key mediator in the difficult transition toward democracy. 

In 1996, he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set-up to probe gross human rights violations during apartheid.

Following the presentation of the Commission’s report to then president Mandela in October 1998, Tutu has been a visiting professor at Emory University, Atlanta; the Episcopal Divinity School, Boston; and the University of North Florida, Jacksonville.  He has published several books, the latest of which is titled “God Has a Dream”.  He has a private office near his home in Milnerton, Cape Town.

From the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation 

From the Board of Lifelong Leadership Institute (LLI) 

The directors of the Lifelong Leadership Institute express appreciation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his support of our organization and mission. Archbishop Tutu is an exemplary model of leadership and his record challenging apartheid in South Africa is testimony of his courageous and moral leadership. His outstanding record of leadership has been acknowledged by the well over 100 universities across the globe that have bestowed honorary degrees on him. These universities include Harvard University in Massachusetts, and Columbia University in New York.

As we seek to inspire and develop the responsible leaders of tomorrow, we are pleased to have Archbishop Desmond Tutu as our first honorary patron.