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Umoja Ancestor 2021- Archbishop Desmond Mpilu Tutu

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

October 7, 1931 - December 26, 2021

"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are."

Archbishop Tutu was a South African Anglican bishop and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position. Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology.

His father was a teacher, and he himself was educated at Johannesburg Bantu High School. After leaving school he trained first as a teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and in 1954 he graduated from the University of South Africa. After three years as a high school teacher he began to study theology, being ordained as a priest in 1960. The years 1962-66 were devoted to further theological study in England leading up to a Master of Theology. From 1967 to 1972 he taught theology in South Africa before returning to England for three years as the assistant director of a theological institute in London. In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of the South African Co

uncil of Churches. Tutu is an honorary doctor of a number of leading universities in the USA, Britain and Germany.

Desmond Tutu has formulated his objective as “a democratic and just society without racial divisions”, and has set forward the following points as minimum demands:

  1. equal civil rights for all

  2. the abolition of South Africa’s passport laws

  3. a common system of education

  4. the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called “homelands”

Aside from being a member of the clergy, Tutu was a key figure during the anti-apartheid movement, an advocate for human rights and a "voice of reason and compassion against poverty, racism, xenophobia and corruption, and for human development".

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

The former teacher besotted the hearts and minds of the public with his infectious smile and jovial personality, but more than that, he was an eloquent public speaker, with his many quotes carrying meaning today.

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