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Desmond Mpilo Tutu

portrait of Desmond Tutu
Provided by his staff (February 2004)

Born: 7 October 1931, Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa

Tutu's father was a teacher at a school for the blind, his mother was a cleaner and cook at the school. The family moved to Johannesburg twelve years later and Desmond attended Johannesburg Bantu High School. He hoped to become a doctor but his family couldn't afford tuition so he became a teacher like his father, graduating from the University of South Africa in 1954. When the white government passed new regulations that he felt destroyed education for blacks he quit and trained for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1960, and after further study in England, became bishop of Lesotho in 1976, then head of the South African Council of Churches in 1978, giving him a national platform from which to speak against apartheid. The government revoked his passport to keep him from speaking outside South Africa, international protests reversed this. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, two years later he became the first black to serve as Archbishop of Cape Town, the head of the Anglican Church in the country. When Nelson Mandela was elected president in the first open elections in 1994, he named Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Throughout this turmoil, Tutu spoke with compassion, forgiveness, occasional sparks, but frequent humor. In July of 2010 he announced his retirement from the public stage.

Biography from Wikipedia and Academy of Achievement

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