Portrait: Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican cleric, anti-apartheid and human rights activist

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
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Desmond Tutu at the German Evangelical Church Assembly 2007 © Elke Wetzig/cc-by-sa-3.0

Desmond Tutu at the German Evangelical Church Assembly 2007 © Elke Wetzig/cc-by-sa-3.0

Desmond Mpilo Tutu OMSG CH (born 7 October 1931) is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position. Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology.

Tutu was born of mixed Xhosa and Motswana heritage to a poor family in Klerksdorp, South Africa. Entering adulthood, he trained as a teacher and married Nomalizo Leah Tutu, with whom he had several children. In 1960, he was ordained as an Anglican priest and in 1962 moved to the United Kingdom to study theology at King’s College London. In 1966 he returned to southern Africa, teaching at the Federal Theological Seminary and then the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1972, he became the Theological Education Fund’s director for Africa, a position based in London but necessitating regular tours of the African continent. Back in southern Africa in 1975, he served first as dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg and then as Bishop of Lesotho; from 1978 to 1985 he was general-secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He emerged as one of the most prominent opponents of South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule. Although warning the National Party government that anger at apartheid would lead to racial violence, as an activist he stressed non-violent protest and foreign economic pressure to bring about universal suffrage.

World Economic Forum 2009 © flickr.com - World Economic Forum - swiss-image.ch - Remy Steinegger/cc-by-sa-2.0 Desmond Tutu with former Irish President Mary Robinson, British First Secretary of State William Hague, and former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 © flickr.com - Foreign and Commonwealth Office The 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Vancouver 2004 ©Carey Linde/cc-by-sa-3.0 Archbishop Desmond Tutu © Benny Gool Desmond Tutu at COP17 in Durban 2011 © Kristen Opalinski/cc-by-sa-3.0 Desmond Tutu at the German Evangelical Church Assembly 2007 © Elke Wetzig/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Desmond Tutu with former Irish President Mary Robinson, British First Secretary of State William Hague, and former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 © flickr.com - Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In 1985, Tutu became Bishop of Johannesburg and in 1986 the Archbishop of Cape Town, the most senior position in southern Africa’s Anglican hierarchy. In this position he emphasised a consensus-building model of leadership and oversaw the introduction of female priests. Also in 1986, he became president of the All Africa Conference of Churches, resulting in further tours of the continent. After President F. W. de Klerk released the anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and the pair led negotiations to end apartheid and introduce multi-racial democracy, Tutu assisted as a mediator between rival black factions. After the 1994 general election resulted in a coalition government headed by Mandela, the latter selected Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses committed by both pro and anti-apartheid groups. Since apartheid’s fall, Tutu has campaigned for gay rights and spoken out on a wide range of subjects, among them the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, his opposition to the Iraq War, and his criticism of South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In 2010, he retired from public life.

Tutu polarised opinion as he rose to notability in the 1970s. White conservatives who supported apartheid despised him, while many white liberals regarded him as too radical; many black radicals accused him of being too moderate and focused on cultivating white goodwill, while Marxist–Leninists criticised his anti-communist stance. He was widely popular among South Africa’s black majority, and was internationally praised for his anti-apartheid activism, receiving a range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also compiled several books of his speeches and sermons.

Read more on The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, DW, 26 December 2021: Tributes paid to anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, France24, 26 December 2021: South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu dies at 90, BBC, 26 December 2021: Obama joins tributes to ‘mentor’ Desmond Tutu, Forward, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid leader who identified with Jews and criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, dies at 90, The Guardian, 26 December 2021: ‘A patriot without equal’: world mourns death of Desmond Tutu, The Sunday Times, 26 December 2021: obituary: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Irish Times, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu in Ireland: Cheering the Dubs and … pints of plain, Politico.com, 26 December 2021: Obituaries: Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s moral conscience, dies at 90, Haaretz, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu to Haaretz: This Is My Plea to the People of Israel, Jerusalem Post, 26 December 2021: ‘Not a friend of Israel, but a man of great achievement, heroism and bravery’, The National, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu: South Africa’s unwavering champion of human rights, Gulf News, 26 December 2021: Pictures: Life and times of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The National, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu chose peace when it was most difficult, The New York Times, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu, Whose Voice Helped Slay Apartheid, Dies at 90, The Washington Post, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu, exuberant apostle of racial justice in South Africa, dies at 90, Los Angeles Times, 26 December 2021: The world remembers Desmond Tutu; Biden praises his ‘moral clarity’, NPR, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu, an icon who helped end apartheid in South Africa, dies at 90, The Hill, 26 December 2021: Bidens: Desmond Tutu’s legacy will ‘echo throughout the ages’, NPR, 26 December 2021: Desmond Tutu’s laugh was contagious. His fight for freedom was deadly serious, Gulf Times, 27 December 2021: Obama hails Tutu as mentor and a ‘moral compass’, Khaleej Times, 27 December 2021: Archbishop Tutu’s funeral set for January 1, BBC, 27 December 2021: Desmond Tutu: South Africa mourns anti-apartheid hero, The Guardian, 27 December 2021: ‘We looked up to him’: South Africa begins week of mourning for Desmond Tutu, France24, 27 December 2021: South Africans mourn ‘hero’ Desmond Tutu, The New York Times, 27 December 2021: South Africa Begins a Week of Mourning for Desmond Tutu, BBC, 1 January 2022: South Africa holds state funeral for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, CNN, 1 January 2022: Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s ‘national conscience,’ laid to rest at state funeral, The New York Times, 1 January 2022: With a Simple Funeral, South Africa Bids Farewell to Desmond Tutu, NPR, 1 January 2022: At his funeral, Tutu is remembered for helping end apartheid and championing rights, The Guardian, 1 January 2022: Desmond Tutu laid to rest at state funeral in Cape Town, Reuters, 1 January 2022: Farewell to ‘our national conscience’ at funeral of South Africa’s Tutu, France24, 1 January 2022: South Africa lays Desmond Tutu to rest in state funeral, DW, 1 January 2022: South Africa lays Archbishop Desmond Tutu to rest and Wikipedia Desmond Tutu (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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