Desmond Mpilo Tutu began his career as a high school teacher but turned to theology after the 1953 Bantu Education Act enforced racial segregation in all educational institutions. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960, becoming the first black Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975 and the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches four years later. An outspoken critic of the apartheid government, he insisted that racial segregation was against God’s will. He soon became well-known internationally for his commitment to non-violence and for his support for economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work in the struggle against apartheid. In 1986 he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in the Anglican Church in South Africa. Widely regarded as 'South Africa's moral conscience', he continued to speak out against the apartheid regime and organised many peaceful demonstrations with thousands marching beside him.
In 1994, after the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa, Tutu was appointed Chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate apartheid-era crimes. The model he established, based on truth as a foundation for forgiveness and reconciliation, was central to healing South Africa's divided society. He says, “Without forgiveness there can be no future for a relationship between individuals or within and between nations.”