Desmond Mpilo Tutu, CH is a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa.
Tutu’s admirers see him as a great man who, since the demise of apartheid, has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He has campaigned to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; The Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; The Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; The Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
He has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.
Tutu is widely regarded as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’ and was described by former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela as ‘sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless’.
Since his retirement, Tutu has worked to critique the new South African government. Tutu has been vocal in condemnation of corruption, the ineffectiveness of the ANC-led government to deal with poverty, and the recent outbreaks of xenophobic violence in some townships in South Africa.
After a decade of freedom for South Africa, Tutu was honoured with the invitation to deliver the annual Nelson Mandela Foundation Lecture. On 23 November 2004, Tutu gave an address entitled Look to the Rock from Which You Were Hewn.
This lecture, critical of the ANC-control led government, stirred a pot of controversy between Tutu and Thabo Mbeki, calling into question ‘the right to criticise’.
Tutu stated that Nelson Mandela would be dismayed that Afrikaners got excluded from memorial services to commemorate Mandela’s death. The spokesman for Tutu said the cleric changed his plans and would attend the funeral of Mandela, after not originally being officially invited.
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