The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of Naomi’s life as an activist for human rights. Those experiences taught her that our whole human family loses when we accept situations of oppression, and how the teaching and preaching hate and division injure us all. In her speeches she blends this passion for human dignity with humor and personal stories.
Ms Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She was born in South Africa and had the opportunity to live in many communities and countries. She was educated in Swaziland, the US and England, and has divided her adult life between South Africa and the US. Growing up the ‘daughter of …’ has offered Naomi Tutu many opportunities and challenges in her life. Most important of these has been the challenge to follow her own path and role in building a better world. She has taken up the challenge and channeled the opportunities that she has been given to raise her voice as a champion for the dignity of all.
Her professional experience ranges from being a development consultant in West Africa, to being program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. In addition Ms Tutu has taught at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina. She served as Program Coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, and was a part of the Institute’s delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
She started her public speaking as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970’s when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. Since that time she has become a much sought after speaker to groups as varied as business associations, professional conferences, elected officials and church and civic organizations.
As well as speaking and preaching Ms Tutu has established Nozizwe Consulting. Nozizwe means Mother of Many Lands, in her mother tongue Xhosa and is the name she was given by her maternal grandmother. The guiding principle of Nozizwe Consulting is to bring different groups together to learn from and celebrate their differences and acknowledge their shared humanity. As part of this work she has led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with different types of conflict. She has also offerered educational and partnership trips to South Africa for groups as varied as high schools, churches, hospices, K-12 teachers, and women’s associations. These trips emphasize the opportunities to share our stories and experiences.
Ms Tutu is the recipient of four honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the US and Nigeria and is pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Vanderbilt University. She is the single mother of two daughters and a son.