Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Leah Tutu
2009 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award Honorees
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu was born in South Africa in 1931. Although he had hoped to become a physician, his parents could not afford to send him to medical school. Instead, Tutu studied to become a teacher.
When the government ordered a deliberately inferior system of education for black students, as well as the forced relocation of black Africans and Asians from newly designated "white" areas, Tutu refused to cooperate. He was determined to do something to improve the life of his disenfranchised people, so he began to study for the Anglican priesthood and was ordained in 1960.
Tutu earned a master's degree in theology, and in 1978, he became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. From this national platform, Tutu encouraged nonviolent resistance to the apartheid regime and advocated an economic boycott of the country. In 1984, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign.
In 1986 he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, the first black African to serve in this position, which placed him at the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa. In December 1995, President Mandela appointed Archbishop Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1996, he retired as Archbishop of Cape Town and was named Archbishop Emeritus.
He continues to speak out for human rights, equality and social justice in South Africa and throughout the world. Today he is chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who contribute their integrity and leadership in dealing with some of the world's most pressing problems. His published writings include God Has a Dream, No Future Without Forgiveness, Crying in the Wilderness, Hope and Suffering, and The Rainbow People of God.
Nomalizo Leah Tutu
Nomalizo Leah Shenxane Tutu was born in South Africa in 1933. She married Desmond Tutu in 1955, and they have four children and seven grandchildren. She is a teacher by profession.
Leah Tutu has travelled extensively and lectured to churches, youth groups, women's groups, universities and professional associations about various aspects of life in South Africa. From 1976 to 1984, she served as Director of the Domestic Workers and Employers Project of the South African Institute of Race Relations.
Together with her husband, she co-founded the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre (DTPC) in 1998. The Centre plays a unique role in building and leveraging the legacy of Archbishop Tutu to enable peace in the world.
Leah was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 2000, in conjunction with her husband, by the National Louis University, Atlanta for her commitment to human rights and her support of her husband's work.