Desmond’s World Puppet Show

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has launched a puppet show aimed at inculcating the values and principles of Archbishop Tutu in young children aged 4 to 8 years. The puppet show, called Desmond’s World, marks the beginning of the Foundation’s early childhood development (ECD) programme, fondly known as Tutu Tots.

While many people know the beloved Arch for his activism, Tutu also wrote several children’s books aimed at affirming and inspiring young minds. One book in particular, Desmond and the Very Mean Word, was the inspiration for the puppet show. In the book, the Archbishop shares his experience of being bullied as a young boy, and how he handled this with the help of a trusted adult, Father Trevor Huddleston, learning valuable life lessons in the process.

Research has shown that the use of puppets as a pedagogical tool for preschool learning activities helps to promote social and emotional development in young children. The Desmond’s World puppet show centres around the tales of Desmond, a boy with a very active imagination, who tells his best friend Noma about the adventures of his animal friends in the African savannah. The story was developed with the assistance of the ECD team at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, and is delivered in a fun and engaging manner to enable socio-emotional learning.

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’s CEO, Janet Jobson, noted that Archbishop Tutu’s love for children, and his belief in our moral obligation to educate them, was the motivation behind developing the show.  “Our aim is to share Archbishop Tutu’s legacy with young children by foregrounding virtues such as; humanity and connectedness (ubuntu), courage, compassion and forgiveness, that the Arch embodied his whole life. We are grateful to the Hanns Seidel Foundation for their support in enabling us to develop this beautiful show. What better way for young children to learn important social and emotional skills for dealing with challenging situations such as bullying than through the use of puppetry!”

Hanns Bühler, Regional Representative for the Hanns Seidel Foundation, said “too many children are growing up in challenging environments characterised by hardship and violence. Desmond’s World is a safe and fun space for young kids. Through this wonderful puppet show they will experience key values to become responsive citizens. The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’s targeted children’s education programme supports the positive socialisation of children and ultimately promotes cohesion within South Africa’s democratic society. The project is made possible through the partnership between the Western Cape and its German partner province, the Free State of Bavaria, with the generous support of the Bavarian State Parliament.”

The Tutu Legacy Foundation team has been piloting the Desmond’s World puppet show since September in partnership with ECD centres from District Six and beyond, and the feedback has been positive and heart-warming. ECD centres and primary schools from across Cape Town are invited to bring their pre-schoolers and foundation phase learners to the enjoy this learning adventure. Bookings can be made by emailing

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ntombenhle Shezi

021 552 7524


The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation (DLTLF) was founded in 2011 by the Archbishop and Mrs. Tutu to preserve their legacy, while taking their example of exceptional leadership and profound moral courage into the future. The mission of the Foundation is to galvanise the courage to heal for societal transformation. We do this by actively nurturing a generation of courageous leaders from all ages and walks of life to have a positive impact in the world. Our programmes inspire uncompromised bravery in children, youth, activists, change-makers, and thought leaders to build justice and peace around the world, while embodying the values left to us by Archbishop Tutu.


The Hanns Seidel Foundation opened its office in South Africa in 1991 to support the country’s peaceful transition to an all-inclusive, non-racial democratic society. Together with our local partner organisations, we are committed to promoting the fundamental values of the South African Constitution and the rule of law.

We support educational initiatives and research projects and work with key South African public and civil society organisations to promote national dialogue and progress on pressing social, political and developmental issues. Through its work, the Foundation also aims to contribute to the sustainable social and economic development of South Africa, strengthen violence prevention initiatives and help to combat crime.