Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Born: 7 October 1931, Klerksdorp, South Africa
Residence at the time of the award: South Africa
Role: former Secretary General, South African Council of Churches (S.A.C.C.), Bishop of Johannesburg
Field: human rights
Prize share: 1/1
Like his countryman Albert Lutuli, the Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu was honored with the Peace Prize for his opposition to South Africa's brutal apartheid regime. Tutu was saluted by the Nobel Committee for his clear views and his fearless stance, characteristics which had made him a unifying symbol for all African freedom fighters. Attention was once again directed at the nonviolent path to liberation.
Despite bloody violations committed against the black population, as in the Sharpeville massacre of 1961 and the Soweto rising in 1976, Tutu adhered to his nonviolent line. Yet he would not blame Nelson Mandela and his supporters for having made a different choice.
The Peace Prize award made a big difference to Tutu's international standing, and was a helpful contribution to the struggle against apartheid. The broad media coverage made him a living symbol in the struggle for liberation, someone who articulated the suffering and expectations of South Africa's oppressed masses. There are many indications that Tutu's Peace Prize helped to pave the way for a policy of stricter sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s.