Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu (1931-2021) was a South African Anglican bishop, theologian and national leader. He was born from a low-income family in Klerksdorp in the North West province of South Africa during the apartheid era. Originally trained as a teacher, Tutu was later ordained as an Anglican priest.
“I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Tutu a couple of times, and I was always struck by his humility, keen sense of humor and his commitment to peaceful reconciliation,” said Dr. Corné J. Bekker, dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University.
Tutu studied Theology at King’s College in London and returned to Southern Africa to teach at the Federal Theological Seminary and the Universities of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. During this time, Tutu was one of the most prominent critics of the apartheid regime but always stressed the need for non-violent means for facilitating change. He served as the bishop of Lesotho and Johannesburg and later as the Archbishop of Cape Town.
After the first democratic election in South Africa in 1994, the newly elected President Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee chair. In this role, Bishop Tutu demonstrated how true repentance and compassionate forgiveness could heal a nation. He always stressed that it was a “gospel imperative” to acknowledge our wrongdoings and forgive those who have wronged us. Tutu is recognized globally for his moral courage and leadership in the face of great adversity and a reminder that “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).