Network of Men Leaders
Members of the Secretary-General’s Network of Men Leaders
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu is an icon of hope far beyond the Church and the border of his native country, South Africa. Born in Klerksdorp on 7th October 1931, his childhood dream was to become a doctor. But he was unable to afford medical school, and when the South African government introduced an inferior education system for blacks, he decided to join the priesthood, fulfilling his passion for both healing and teaching.
Desmond Tutu was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 and soon afterwards obtained his Bachelor and Master of Theology degrees from King’s College London in England. From 1967 to 1978 he served in a number of increasingly prominent positions and became Bishop of Lesotho.
By 1978 Bishop Tutu became General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). It was in this position that he became an international figure. Justice, reconciliation and an end to apartheid were the SACC's priorities and Bishop Tutu pursued these goals with vigor, becoming a prominent leader in the crusade for justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. In 1984 he received a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to that cause.
Two years later Bishop Tutu was elevated to Archbishop of Cape Town, where he became a principal mediator and conciliator in the transition to democracy in South Africa. In 1995 President Nelson Mandela appointed him Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The following year, shortly after his retirement from office as Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu was granted the honorary title of Archbishop Emeritus. He holds honorary degrees from over 130 universities, and has received many prizes and awards in addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, most notably the Order for Meritorious Service Award (Gold) presented by President Mandela.
Today, Archbishop Tutu is regarded as an elder world statesman with a major role to play in reconciliation, and as a leading moral voice. He is chairman of the Elders, an independent group of influential people chosen for their outstanding integrity, courage and proven ability to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.