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Desmond MpiloTutu

Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African civil rights leader and the 1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jul 06, 2009

Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Image Credit: Peter Himsel


Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born in 1931) symbolizes the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, where he played a leading role. In 1958, due to the legal discrimination of the black populaton in the educational system in South Africa, he gave up his teaching career and began to study theology.

In 1961 he was ordained an Anglican priest. In 1978, he was the first black person ever to become elected as the Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches. He used this position to work for a reconciliation between black and white people in his country. He spoke out explicitly against any form of violence and in favor of a peaceful way to freedom.

In recognition of his peaceful campaign to create a free and democratic society, Desmond Tutu was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. During his years as Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, he directed his efforts at finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict in South Africa. In 1995, the South African President Nelson Mandela appointed Desmond Tutu as Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, an organization dedicated to investigating human rights violations during the apartheid period. The Commission and Tutu's commitment made a vital contribution to South Africa's transition to a free democracy.

An international figure and highly respected Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu is an inspiration for all oppresssed people's struggles. He is regarded as a moral voice and champion for reconciliation and understanding. He is Chairman of The Elders, an international group of leading world figures, including peace activists, human rights activists, and intellectuals, pursuing solutions for pressing global problems.