|Occupation:||South African Anglican cleric|
|Date of Birth||October 7, 1931|
|Place of Birth||South Africa, Klerksdorp|
Who is Desmond Tutu?
Desmond Tutu, in full Desmond Mpilo Tutu, (born October 7, 1931, Klerksdorp, South Africa), South African Anglican cleric who in 1984 received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in the opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
Tutu was born of Xhosa and Tswana parents and was educated in South African mission schools at which his father taught. Though he wanted a medical career, Tutu was unable to afford training and instead became a schoolteacher in 1955. He resigned his post in 1957. He then attended St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1961. In 1962 he moved to London, where in 1966 he obtained an M.A. from King’s College London. From 1972 to 1975 he served as an associate director for the World Council of Churches. He was appointed dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg in 1975, the first Black South African to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 Tutu served as bishop of Lesotho.
Desmond Tutu Age
Desmond Tutu was born October 7, 1931, Klerksdorp, South Africa) and died at the age of 90 in 2021.
Early Life and Education
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, South Africa. His father was an elementary school principal and his mother worked cooking and cleaning at a school for the blind. The South Africa of Tutu’s youth was rigidly segregated, with Black Africans denied the right to vote and forced to live in specific areas. Although as a child Tutu understood that he was treated worse than white children based on nothing other than the color of his skin, he resolved to make the best of the situation and still managed a happy childhood.
“We knew, yes, we were deprived,” he later recalled in an Academy of Achievement interview. “It wasn’t the same thing for white kids, but it was as full a life as you could make it. I mean, we made toys for ourselves with wires, making cars, and you really were exploding with joy!” Tutu recalls one day when he was out walking with his mother when a white man, a priest named Trevor Huddleston, tipped his hat to her — the first time he had ever seen a white man pay this respect to a Black woman. The incident made a profound impression on Tutu, teaching him that he need not accept discrimination and that religion could be a powerful tool for advocating racial equality.
Tutu was a bright and curious child with a passion for reading. He especially loved reading comic strips as well as Aesop’s Fables and the plays of William Shakespeare. His family eventually moved to Johannesburg, and it was during Tutu’s teen years that he contracted tuberculosis, spending a year and a half at a sanatorium to recuperate. The experience inspired his ambition to become a medical doctor and find a cure for the disease. Tutu attended Johannesburg Bantu High School, a grossly underfunded all-Black school where he nevertheless excelled academically. “…many of the people who taught us were very dedicated and they inspired you to want to emulate them and really to become all that you could become,” Tutu remembered when speaking to the Academy of Achievement. “They gave you the impression that, in fact, yeah, the sky is the limit. You can, even with all of the obstacles that are placed in your way; you can reach out to the stars.”
Tutu graduated from high school in 1950, and although he had been accepted into medical school, his family could not afford the expensive tuition. Instead, he accepted a scholarship to study education at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and graduated with his teacher’s certificate in 1953. He then continued on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa in 1954. Upon graduation, Tutu returned to his high school alma mater to teach English and history. “…I tried to be what my teachers had been to me to these kids,” he said, “seeking to instill in them a pride, a pride in themselves. A pride in what they were doing. A pride that said they may define you as so and so. You aren’t that. Make sure you prove them wrong by becoming what the potential in you says you can become.”
Tutu has four children. Namely, they are Mpho Andrea Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu, Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu and Theresa Thandeka Tutu
Desmond Tutu Books
Tutu has also penned several books over the years, including No Future Without Forgiveness (1999), the children’s title God’s Dream (2008) and The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016), with the latter co-authored by the Dalai Lama.
Tutu stands among the world’s foremost human rights activists. Like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., his teachings reach beyond the specific causes for which he advocated to speak for all oppressed peoples’ struggles for equality and freedom. Perhaps what makes Tutu so inspirational and universal a figure is his unshakable optimism in the face of overwhelming odds and his limitless faith in the ability of human beings to do good. “Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness,” he once said. “The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place.”
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