Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu turns 88-years-old on 7 October, and the Nobel Peace Prize award-winner has been requested by the late Nelson Mandela, to “continue to be our voice of conscience” in South Africa.
Who is Archbishop Desmond Tutu?
Tutu is a prominent figure in South Africa since his stance on the fight against Apartheid, he started as an English and history teacher after graduating at the University of South Africa in 1954.
“I tried to be what my teachers had been to me, to these kids, seeking to instil in them a pride, a pride in themselves. Pride in what they were doing, a pride that said they may define you as so and so. You aren’t that, make sure you prove them wrong by becoming what the potential in you says you can become.”
What is the most iconic work the Archbishop has done?
Tutu went on to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); a body initiated in South Africa’s journey to healing from the traumatic past injustices through investigating and reporting on the atrocities of Apartheid.
“From prison and exile we watched and listened as he chastised the apartheid regime. His words and teachings were translated into deeds of courage and commitment as he confronted the might of the apartheid state and its agencies. In those dark days when our organizations were banned, and its leaders in exile, prison or underground he stepped in to give leadership and guidance.”
Mandela has further noted that under Tutu’s leadership the TRC went on to become an example to the world to finding peaceful solutions, he has also described the Archbishop as having a voice that has spoken with consistency and integrity, despite how the political landscape might have changed.
When did Tutu gain the Archbishop title?
Tutu was appointed as the Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985 and shortly after he was ordained as the first black leader to hold the highest position as the Archbishop of Cape Town, appointed by the South African Anglican Church.
“In the Bible, we first encounter God when He sides with a bunch of slaves against a powerful Pharaoh, an act of grace freely given.”
Tutu has been at the forefront of South Africa’s liberation
In 1987 he became the president of All Africa Conference of Churches, and when Apartheid came to an end, he introduced Nelson Mandela to the nation.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”