Archbishop Tutu Early life and Later life in summary
Desmond Mpilo Tutu OMSG CH (7 October 1931 – 26 December 2021) was a South African Anglican bishop 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.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on 7 October 1931 in Klerksdorp, northwest South Africa. His mother, Allen Dorothea Mavoertsek Mathlare, was born to a Motswana family in Boksburg.
His father, Zachariah Zelilo Tutu, was from the amaFengu branch of Xhosa and grew up in Gcuwa, Eastern Cape.
At home, the couple spoke the Xhosa language.
Having married in Boksburg, they moved to Klerksdorp in the late 1950s, living in the city’s “native location,” or black residential area, since renamed Makoetend.
Zachariah worked as the principal of a Methodist primary school and the family lived in the mud-brick schoolmaster’s house in the yard of the Methodist mission.
In October 1994, Tutu announced his intention to retire as archbishop in 1996.
Although retired archbishops normally return to the position of bishop, the other bishops bestowed on him a new title: “archbishop emeritus”.
A farewell ceremony was held at St George’s Cathedral in June 1996, attended by senior politicians like Mandela and de Klerk.
There, Mandela awarded Tutu the Order for Meritorious Service, South Africa’s highest honour.
Tutu was succeeded as archbishop by Ndungane.
Also read Nelson Mandela Early Life
In January 1997, Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer and travelled abroad for treatment. He publicly revealed his diagnosis, hoping to encourage other men to go for prostate exams.
He faced recurrences of the disease in 1999 and 2006.
Back in South Africa, he divided his time between homes in Soweto’s Orlando West and Cape Town’s Milnerton area. In 2000, he opened an office in Cape Town. In June 2000, the Cape Town-based Desmond Tutu Peace Centre was launched, which in 2003 launched an Emerging Leadership Program.
Conscious that his presence in South Africa might overshadow Ndungane, Tutu agreed to a two-year visiting professorship at Emory University.