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Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

  • Alumni

Nobel Prize for Peace 1984


Desmond Tutu (Theology, 1965; MTh, 1966) (1931-2021) 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.

Desmond was a teacher in South Africa before becoming a priest and coming to study theology at King’s. He completed both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree here, graduating from the latter in 1966. He then went to teach theology in South Africa before returning to England in 1972 as the Assistant Director of a Theological Institute in London.

In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black person to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho and in 1978 was appointed as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. In 1985 he became Bishop of Johannesburg and in 1986 the Archbishop of Cape Town, the most senior position in southern Africa's Anglican hierarchy.

A prominent campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, Desmond spoke out against the regime throughout the period that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work to end apartheid, and in the 1990s he chaired South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, investigating the crimes of the period.

Desmond said of his time at King’s: ‘I have wonderful, happy memories. My experience was one of great encouragement and support in my academic studies and an acceptance and warmth from my fellow students. Study opened up a whole new world to me. I was excited by the accessibility of books, the freedom to question and to debate and the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of minds whose experience and learning left me eager to discover more.’