South Africa’s icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu turns 90 today

South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu turns 90 today. Events are being held in South Africa to mark the birthday of the Nobel peace prize winner.

South Africa’s icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu turns 90 today

Desmond Tutu who recently spoke out against corruption and xenophobic violence is remembered for his leading role in denouncing white minority rule in apartheid-era South Africa.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu OMSG CH (born 7 October 1931) is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the 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.

Tutu testified on behalf of a captured cell of Umkhonto we Sizwe, an armed anti-apartheid group linked to the banned African National Congress (ANC). He stated that although he was committed to non-violence and censured those on all sides who used violence, he could understand why black Africans would become violent when their non-violent tactics had failed to overturn apartheid.

In New York, Tutu was informed that he had won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize; he had previously been nominated in 1981, 1982, and 1983. The Nobel Prize selection committee had wanted to recognise a South African and thought Tutu would be a less controversial choice than Mandela or Mangosuthu Buthele.

In December, he attended the award ceremony in Oslo—which was hampered by a bomb scare—before returning home via Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Tanzania, and Zambia. He shared the $192,000 prize money with his family, SACC staff, and a scholarship fund for South Africans in exile. He was the second South African to receive the award, after Albert Luthuli in 1960. South Africa’s government and mainstream media either downplayed or criticised the award, while the Organisation of African Unity hailed it as evidence of apartheid’s impending demise.

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