1983 – 1992

Adding a Voice to Change

From Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop of Cape Town to Chancellor of the University of Western Cape, Tutu did not falter in advocating for he knew to be right, to be fair and to be just along with his wife, Mrs Leah Tutu who stood up for the improved working environment for domestic workers.

Elected as Patron of the United Democratic Front (UDF), one of the most important non-racial anti-apartheid organisations. His community activism was complemented by that of his wife Leah. She championed the cause for better working conditions for domestic workers in South Africa. She helped found the South African Domestic Workers Association.

Whilst in America in 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his untiring effort in calling for an end to White minority rule in South Africa. While several Black South Africans celebrated this prestigious award, the Government was silent, not even congratulating Tutu on his achievement. He became the second black South African to be listed under Nobel Laureates after Albert Luthuli.

Learning about his nomination for Bishop of Johannesburg, Tutu used his influence to urge foreign disinvestment in South Africa as well as civil disobedience, as a way to dismantle Apartheid which subjected him to harassment by the Security Police. Tutu’s appointment as the first black Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, found his critics, mainly Whites and a few Blacks, in opposition of his election.

As the Alexandra Township in Johannesburg went up in flames in 1986, Tutu, together with Reverend Beyers Naude and Dr Boesak and other church leaders went to diffuse the situation. After having served as Bishop of Johannesburg for 18 months, Tutu took on the role of Bishop of Cape Town, becoming the first black person to lead the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa. He was also the president of the All Africa Conference of Churches.

In 1988, Bishop Tutu was appointed as the Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.

Following his appointment in 1989 as State President, FW De Klerk on the 2nd of February 1990 unbanned the ANC and other political parties, and announced plans to release Nelson Mandela from prison, which took place on the 11th of February. The process was not without violence.