Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Biography & Resources


Desmond Tutu is best known for his vigorous activism during apartheid in his native South Africa, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. 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 to the priesthood in Johannesburg three years later.

Following further theological studies in London, Tutu held several positions in teaching and theological work in South and southern Africa. Then, 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 is committed to fulfilling the social responsibility of the Church, and as its chairperson, Tutu has led a formidable crusade in support of justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. 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.

After the fall of apartheid, Tutu 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, the body set up to probe gross human rights violations during apartheid.

Following the presentation of the Commission's report in October 1998, Tutu has been a visiting professor at several overseas universities, and he has also published several books, the latest of which is entitled God Has a Dream. He has set up a private office in Cape Town, near his home.

selected books

God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
(Doubleday, 2004)
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No Future Without Forgiveness
(Image, 1999)
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The Essential Desmond Tutu
(Thorold's Africana Books, 1997)
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The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution
Edited by John Allen (Image, 1996)
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The Words of Desmond Tutu
(Newmarket Press, 1996)
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An African Prayer Book
(Doubleday, 1995)
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Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches
Edited by John Webster (Skotaville Publishers, 1983)

Crying in the Wilderness: The Struggle for Justice in South Africa
Edited by John Webster (Books on Demand, 1982)
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When God Smiles