Desmond Tutu: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Desmond Tutu.

  • Desmond Tutu is a retired South African Anglican bishop, and one time civil rights activist. He is well known for being the first black Archbishop of Cape Town.
  • Tutu was born in South Africa in 1931 and became a teacher as he could not afford to study medicine. He became a priest in 1960 and also studied in the UK.

  • During his long career, Tutu has fought against poverty, racism and tuberculosis. He has also campaigned to release Chelsea Manning, a US soldier convicted of espionage.
  • In 1975, Tutu and his family moved into a house in Vilakazi Street in Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela lived here too, making it one of the few streets where 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners have lived.
  • In 1989, Tutu’s son Trevor made a false bomb threat at a London airport and was arrested. He did not serve much prison time, partly thanks to efforts from his father.
  • In 1978, he became the first black General Secretary of the South African Church Council. He used his position to fight apartheid, the country’s system of separating black and white people.
  • During the 1980s, Desmond Tutu actively fought apartheid in South Africa. He compared apartheid to Nazi Germany and twice had his passport taken away by the government.
  • In 1997, Desmond Tutu was treated for cancer in the US. To coincide with his 80th birthday in 2011, a book about Tutu was published, with anecdotes by the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and others.
  • Desmond Tutu joined the Elders in 2007, an organization of world leaders dedicated to solving global problems. The group has worked in Ethiopia, India and the Middle East.
  • He has won many awards and honours in his life. These include the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize as well as honorary membership of several colleges.