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Desmond Tutu (1931-2021): Spirituality, Social Justice and Leadership

Desmond Tutu was the former Archbishop of South Africa and a Nobel Peace laureate. He studied theology at King’s in the 1960s and was a Fellow of the College.

King’s College London and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (UWC) hosted an online colloquium commemorating the life of the Arch on 6 April 2022.

Desmond Tutu, Desmond Tutu: Spirituality, Social Justice and Leadership

Both universities had close associations with the late Archbishop and the event was led by Professor Linda Woodhead (King's College London) and Professor Sarojini Nadar (UWC).


The programme illustrated the many-facetted involvement of Desmond Tutu. The speakers, many of whom knew and worked with Tutu, included:

  • Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town
  • Nyameko Barney Pityana, Black Consciousness pioneer
  • Vicentia Kgabe, Anglican Bishop of Lesotho
  • Revd Mpho Tutu van Furth, Theologian
  • Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2014
  • Graça Machel, Vice-Chair of The Elders
  • Koleka Putuma, award-winning South African poet and playwright

A series of recordings of the colloquium are available below.

Spiritual Fragrances, Social Horizons: A Muslim tribute

Sa'diyya Shaikh, Associate professor in the Department for the study of religions at the University of Cape Town, opened the Desmond Tutu Colloquium.

Reflections on Desmond Tutu's life

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most revd Thabo Makgoba, and Professor Nyameko Pityana, a pioneer of the Black consciousness movement, offer reflections on Desmond Tutu's life.

The Arch in the Archives: Collaborative Opportunities Arising from Archival Records

This paper explores how and where the Archibishop Desmond Tutu's life and work are represented in various archival materials. It then proposes some areas of research collaboration and value.

A new generation reflect on Tutu's legacy

Chaired by Dr Robertson, a senior researcher at the Desmond Tutu Centre, four students reflect on the impact Desmond Tutu has made on their education. Panellists include Thea Turton and Khushal Yousafzai from King's College London and Rhine Tsobotsi Koloti and Sakeenah Dramat from the University of the Western Cape.

Spiritual palliative care and Archbishop Tutu

Professors Richard Harding and Irene Higginson from the Cicely Saunders Institute of palliative care at King's College London give a talk on spiritual palliative care and Archbishop Tutu.

Tutu the political priest

Professor Sarojini Nadar, the Desmond Tutu Research chair at the University of the Western Cape, in dialogue with Professor Michael Battle, Director of the Desmond Tutu Center of General Theological Seminary in New York.

Ubuntu in action, an example from London

Joseph Duncan, special advisor to the Tutu foundation, leads an interactive workshop with his team in the practise of Ubuntu.

Gender and Sexuality

Professor Sarojini Nadar chairs a discussion on gender and sexuality between the theologian Revd Mpho Tutu Van Furth and the Rt revd Dr Vicentia Kgabe, Bishop of Lesotho.

Leadership and the Nobel Peace Prize

Thea Turton, 2nd year in the department of Theology and Religious studies at King's College London, chairs a panel discussion on Leadership and the Nobel Peace Prize between Mabel Van Oranje (Founder of Girls Not Brides), Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize winner, 2014), Graça Machel (Vice Chair of The Elders).

Koleka Putuma's closing poems

South African poet Koleka Putuma closes the Desmond Tutu Colloquium with two poems exploring the intersection of religion and identity.

In this story

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Nobel Prize for Peace 1984

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