Here are key dates in the life of South Africa’s Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a leading figure in the anti-apartheid struggle and international defender of human rights and peace.
Tutu died on Boxing Day at age 90.
– October 7, 1931: He is born in the small town of Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, his mother a domestic worker and his father a teacher.
– 1961: Is ordained as an Anglican priest, having studied theology after working as a school teacher.
– 1976: He is appointed the bishop of neighbouring Lesotho.
– 1978: Becomes the first black secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, a highly influential grouping with 15 million members that is active in the struggle against apartheid.
– 1984: Is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime. The same year he becomes the first black bishop of Johannesburg and calls for an embargo against the white-minority regime.
– 1986: He is ordained as the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church for Southern Africa, covering two million followers.
– 1996: Two years after the end of apartheid, he heads the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that begins hearings into atrocities committed under the previous regime.
– 1997: Diagnosed with prostate cancer and undergoes repeated treatment over the following years.
– 2007: Helps to found The Elders group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, acting as its chairman until 2013.
– 2010: Aged 79, he announces his retirement from public life.
– 2013: He declares he will no longer be voting for the African National Congress, South Africa’s long-ruling party, citing inequality, violence and corruption among other reasons.
– 2016: Joined advocates calling for the right to assisted dying.
– 2021: Tutu makes a rare public appearance to receive his Covid-19 vaccine. He emerges from the hospital in a wheelchair, and waves but does not speak.
– 2022: Tutu’s remains to be buried in historic St George’s Cathedral where he preached for 10 years.