01 Desmond Tutu – Early Life

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01.   Desmond Mpilo Emeritus Tutu Early Life

Desmon Tutu Early Life

Desmond Mpilo Tutu (1931 – 2021) was born in Klerksdorp, a town in the former South Western Transvaal Province of South Africa (now North West province) to Zachariah and Aletha Tutu. Tutu’ came from inter-ethnic family hence he was fluent to at least three languages which was IsiXhosa, Setswana and Sesotho. He was sickly as a child and his father thought he would not survive infancy; when his condition stabilised, Desmond’s grandmother gave him the name ‘Mpilo’, meaning life. At the time of birth, his father was headmaster of the Methodist Primary School in Klerksdorp and his mother was employed as a domestic worker.

Tutu attended primary school in Roodepoort in Johannesburg, He performed very well in his studies. In 1945 he attended high school in the Western Native Township High School, an area in the west of Johannesburg. In 1950, when he was 19 years old, he passed the joint matriculation board exams and qualified for university entrance. In 1951, he went on to enrol for a teachers’ diploma at the Bantu Normal College near Pretoria.

Desmond Tutu was a man of many talents, including:

  • Playing soccer and boxing
  • Theologian and world religious leader
  • Human Rights activist and anti-apartheid activist
  • 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • International Icon
  • Chairperson of the TRC
  • Well-established author and publisher

Read more about Desmond Tutu in the UJ Library.

Desmond Tutu collections:  UJ Library

The UJ Library catalogue is available on http://ujlink.uj.ac.za

1. Sparks, A., & Tutu, M. (2011). Tutu: The authorised portrait. Johannesburg: Macmillan.
Available: Special collections-UJ archives @ DFC, Shelf No: SBV3 283.092 TUTU SPAR for Library use only.

2. Friedman, R., & Gool, B. (2011). The South African story with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Johannesburg: Penguin.
Available: Reading Corner – APB, shelf no: 916.8 FRIE.

3. Allen, J. (2006). Rabble-rouser for peace: The authorized biography of Desmond Tutu. London: Rider.

Available: Special collections-UJ Archives @ DFC, Shelf No: SBV3 968.0099 TUTU ALLE