Desmond Tutu, an activist and pioneer in South Africa’s fight against racial injustice, died on Sunday at age 90. The retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town was a Nobel Prize winner and the flagbearer for LGBT rights.
An uncompromising foe of apartheid — South Africa’s brutal regime of oppression against the Black majority — Tutu worked tirelessly, though non-violently, for its downfall, according to reports from Associated Press.
Here are the key events of Desmond Tutu’s life:
1931: Desmond Tutu was born on October 7, 1931, in South Africa’s town of Klerksdorp, which is about 170 kilometers away from Johannesburg.
1955: Tutu got married to Nomalizo Leah Shenxane and followed his father’s footsteps, taking up teaching in a school in Johannesburg. About three years later, he quit the job and the priesthood, refusing to teach his students about subjects that promoted inequality.
1975: After being associated with the priesthood for nearly two decades, and meanwhile completing his studies in United Kingdom’s King’s College London, he is made the first Black Anglican Dean of Johannesburg.
1980: Considered to be the turning point of his life, Tutu leads a delegation of church leaders to South Africa’s former Prime Minister PW Botha. Authorities went on to confiscate Tutu’s passport, restricting his travel.
1984: For his participation in countering racial injustice in South Africa, Tutu is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
1986: Two years after receiving the prize, Tutu is picked as the first black person to be appointed as the Bishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa.
1990-1991: FW de Klerk, then-state President, moves to release Nelson Mandela from South African prisons and lifts ban on the African National Congress. Apartheid laws and racist restrictions are repealed and power-sharing talks start between the state and 16 anti-apartheid groups, according to reports from Associated Press.
1997: One year after retiring from the church, Tutu is diagnosed with prostate cancer and was frequently hospitalised to receive treatment for the disease.
December 26, 2021 – Tutu dies in Cape Town, aged 90.