08. Desmond Tutu – Rising international profile and becoming international icon

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As a leader of the South African Churches Council from 1970, Tutu became well known globally for raising world consciousness about apartheid. Around 1979, during his stay in the USA, Tutu spoke against apartheid. In his numerous speeches, he regularly suggested that foreign economic pressure was needed to force the SA government to abandon apartheid. The SA apartheid government tried to restrict his ability to travel by retaining his passport but his popularity in Europe and USA saved him.

In 1982, Tutu addressed the Triennial Convention of the Episcopal Church in New Orleans. He received a standing ovation. Tutu was becoming a hero but not all admired him, claiming that he was supportive of the ANC, which they viewed as a communist party engaged in terrorism.

Tutu receiving the 1984 Nobel Prize made him more famous. Tutu went on to New York City to address the UN Security Council on winning the award. Tutu dedicated his award to the SA people who were oppressed by the apartheid system.

His charisma, eloquence, sense of humour made him famous among the people. His position as Bishop and Nobel Prize winner elevated his status further and made him an international icon known for standing up for justice, human rights protection, reconciliation and world peace.

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©Laura Richardson. Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Congresswoman Diane Watson (left to right) in Washington D.C. Image available from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Laura_Richardson,_Desmond_Tutu_and_Diane_Watson.JPG