Desmond Tutu Childhood Story Plus Untold Biography Facts

Desmond Tutu Childhood Story Plus Untold Biography Facts

Childhood Biography presents the Full Story of an Advocate (now late) who is best known by the nickname “The Arch.”

Our Desmond Tutu Childhood Story plus Untold Biography Facts brings you a full account of notable events from his childhood time to date.

The analysis of Desmond Tutu’s Biography involves his life story before fame, family life, parents, wife (Nomalizo Leah Shenxane), lifestyle, personal life, net worth, and many off-pitch facts about him.

Yes, everyone knows of his ecclesiastical role as an Archbishop.

However, only a few people have read a concise piece of the Late Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu’s Biography, which is quite interesting. Now, without further ado, let’s begin.

Desmond Tutu’s Childhood Story – Early Life and Family Background:

For starters, his full names are Desmond Tutu Mpilo. The late Desmond Tutu was born on the 7th day of October 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa.

He was born to his mother, Allen Mathlare, and father, Zachariah Tutu. Desmond’s father was an elementary school principal, while his mother worked at a school for the blind.

Growing up in Klerksdorp, which is best known for its beautiful nature reserves and warm hospitality, Young Tutu was an avid reader who spent the better part of his formative years consuming literary materials.

Tutu’s love for reading was induced by his parents’ work in educational institutions and not an escape from the racial segregation that South Africa was characterized by at the time.

More so, the rationale behind his love for reading was made evident in his childhood literary collections that comprised Aesop’s fables, plays by William Shakespeare, and Comic Strip books. These books are mostly read with a view to stimulating imagination.


Although the segregation in South Africa was to the degree that Young Tutu could understand why his white counterparts had preferential treatment, he resolved to live above all, which resultantly made him have the best childhood experience.

Recounting the distasteful experience of segregation years later, Tutu recalled that;

“The manner in which white kids were accorded preferential treatment made us realize early on that something was amiss. However, we didn’t deprive ourselves of the things that made life meaningful. we created our own heaven”

Desmond Tutu Education:

Tutu had his basic education at Klerksdorp after which he kick-started his high school education at Bantu High School, an institution that was one of the underdeveloped learning centers in Johannesburg at the time.


In spite of the poor state of the school, Tutu fared well in academics by ensuring that he made the best out of his teachers’ commitment to impact their students regardless of the challenges he experienced.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, our teachers were committed and their disposition to work made it logically impossible for any of us to be mediocre students”. 

Recalls Tutu of his high school teachers.

Upon graduation from high school in 1950, Tutu was offered an opportunity to study medicine as he had once resolved to delve into the science of healing after recuperating from tuberculosis when he was a teenager.

Tutu’s aspirations did not materialize due to the inability of his parent’s poor finances to cushion the immense tuition fee for medical school. Hence, he fell back on studying education and graduated as a teacher in 1953.

Desmond Tutu Biography – Road To Fame Story:

Tutu put his bachelor’s degree in education into good use by teaching English and History at his Alma mater (Bantu High School).

Though he was happy with giving back to the school, which had impacted him positively, he felt the need to embark on a higher purpose. That is, bringing an end to Apartheid in South Africa.


This informed his decision to embark on the career path of becoming a clergyman. Consequently, he began to study at St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg in 1958, became an Anglican deacon in 1960, and was ordained as a priest in 1961.


Tutu’s desire to further his studies saw him move to London, where he bagged a master of theology in 1966 at King’s College.

Commenting on his resolve to become a clergyman, Tutu noted that he believed religion could play a potent role in ending Apartheid as he explains below;

“My first witness of racial equality occurred while i was walking with my mother. We crossed paths with a priest who suprisingly tipped his hat for my mother. That gesture made me realize that religion is a Potent tool for informing change”

Desmond Tutu Biography – Rise To Fame:

Desmond Tutu’s rise to fame was influenced by his ecclesiastical roles, which saw him assume and farewell in positions that were foreign to blacks.

Notable among the numerous position was his appointment as the first black dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg.

Tutu did well to exploit his position as dean in writing and speaking against apartheid, activism which he sustained while he rose through the ecclesiastical ranks of the African religious hierarchy.


His activism metamorphosed into protest marches, which led to his arrest and short-term detention in 1980.


It wasn’t long before his advocacy of non-violent protest fetched him a growing international stature that saw him win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Just like Joel Osteen is for America, the Late Bishop has grown to be one of the most prominent religious figures in his country. The rest, as they say, is history.


Who is Nomalizo Leah Shenxane? Desmond Tutu Wife:

Desmond Tutu has been in decades of relationship with his wife, Nomalizo Leah Shenxane also known as Leah.


The duo met in college during a period when Leah was already serving as a teacher in the institution. Years later they tied the knot on the 2nd of July, 1955.


Their relationship is blessed with four children who include Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu (only son), Theresa Thandeka Tutu (a health care practitioner), Naomi Nontombi Tutu (a human right activist) and Mpho Andrea Tutu (a dismissed Anglican priest).


Desmond Tutu Family Life:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu grew up in a family of 7. We bring you details about members of his family.

About his Desmond Tutu’s Father:

Desmond Tutu’s father, Zachariah Zelilo Tutu was a teacher before becoming a principal in an elementary school in South Africa.

Zachariah had a sour relationship with Tutu who disliked him for his drunkness and use of physical assault on his wife, Allen Mathlare.

About his Desmond Tutu’s Mother:

Desmond Tutu’s Mother, Dorothea Mavoertsek Mathlare, was a cook and cleaner at a handicapped school for the blind before she ventured into the teaching profession. She’s also the mother to Tutu’s four siblings (Tamsaqa, Sipho, Gloria, and Sylvia).

Personal Life:

Desmond Tutu is one who has a disciplined, down-to-earth, honest, and calm personality. More so, he detests oppression and never ceases to preach the act of forgiveness to the world.


Desmond Tutu Illness – The Battles:

Desmond Tutu has had a long battle with illnesses for the better part of his formative years. The clergyman also battled with polio and chickenpox when he was a child. He did contract a very deadly cough disease known as tuberculosis.

It took Desmond two years before he recovered from the terminal illness. The last has not been heard of his illness as he is currently battling prostate cancer.

Desmond Tutu’s Relationship with Nelson Mandela:

One cannot possibly talk about the anti-apartheid movement without mentioning the name of a great activist, Late Nelson Mandela. This legend lived with Tutu on the same street (Vilikazi Street) in 1975.


The fight against apartheid was finally won in 1993. After that, it was Tutu (Archbishop at the time) who did the honors of introducing the new president to the nation.


In addition, Mandela appointed Tutu to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They charged this commission with laying bare atrocities committed by both sides in the struggle to end apartheid.


Desmond Tutu Untold Biography – The Renowned Author:

Desmond has written numerous books that are centered on apartheid, oppression, freedom, and peace.

Notable among the books are Crying in the Wilderness, Hope, and Suffering. More so, Sermons and Speeches, The Words of Desmond Tutu, as well as Newmarket.


Others include;

  • The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution
  • Worshipping Church in Africa, An African Prayer Book
  • Desmond and The Very Mean Word among others.

Desmond Tutu Death Rumour:

On April 22, 2018, news filtered on social media that the legendary peace advocate was dead. Tutu dismissed the death story as gibberish noting that he is still very much alive.

Desmond Tutu Achievements:

The memoir of the late Archbishop story won’t be complete without worthy mentions of his achievements and honors. They include;

  • He was the third person to be awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Colombia University.
  • In 2000, the Munsieville Library in Klerksdorp has renamed the Desmond Tutu Library.
  • In 2002, the Desmond Tutu School of Theology was launched at Fort Hare University
  • Former president of the United States, President Barack Obama, awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.


  • In 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois proclaimed 13 May ‘Desmond Tutu Day’.
  • In 2013, Desmond Tutu received the £1.1m ($1.6m) Templeton Prize. This award was meant for “his life-long work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness”
  • Queen Elizabeth awarded him with Bailiff Grand Cross of the Venerable Order of St.John. Nelson Mandela was also awarded.


Desmond Tutu Untold Biography Facts:


Some years ago, Church authorities dismissed his Daughter, Mpho, as a priest because she got married to a woman.

The late Desmond Tutu supports Gay Rights, Assisted Dying (Euthanasia) and the Legalization of Abortion

Again, the late Archbishop featured in the documentary play “Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom,”  playing the role of Lord Justice Steyn in 2004.

Finally, the late Desmond Tutu Coined the phrase Rainbow Nation for post-apartheid South Africa.


Appreciation Note:

Thanks for reading our version of the late Desmond Tutu’s Biography. As always, we strive for accuracy and fairness in our routine of delivering you the Biography of Religious Leaders.

Kindly try out our related stories from our Religious category. Surely, the Childhood story of Joyce Meyer, David Oyedepo, and Shepherd Bushiri would interest you.

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Cole Daxton is a talented Childhood Biography Storyteller with a passion for uncovering the untold stories of some of the world's biggest celebrities. With a keen eye for detail, Cole Daxton has spent years delving into the Early Years and Success Stories of some of the most famous people in the world.


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