Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter to speak at WWU

The daughter of South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu will speak of her passion for human dignity in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Nontombi Naomi Tutu
Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Day at William Woods University.

 Nontombi Naomi Tutu will present her program, “Our Shared Humanity: Creating Understanding Through the Principles of MLK,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in R.B. Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center. Part of the President’s Concert and Lecture series, the speech is free and open to the public.

Tutu learned quickly about racial and gender inequalities growing up in apartheid South Africa, and she now is an international speaker on race and gender justice. She will talk about King’s dream and share a South African proverb to demonstrate how actions and inactions play a part in everyone’s daily lives.

Known to be an advocate for tolerance and inclusion, Tutu focuses on the power to change and unify the world. Her speeches are a combination of personal stories and passions, and have been known to inspire crowds throughout the nations. Her speeches have proactive and uplifting titles like “Building a Global Community” and “Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground.”

“I think the President’s Concert and Lecture Series is doing a really great thing for our campus by bringing Naomi Tutu to speak,” said senior Jaryd Kalvans. “I had not heard much about her until recently, and I’m impressed with the direction the series is going by bringing this speaker.”

Nontombi Naomi Tutu
Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Tutu’s public speaking career began in the 1970s. As a college student at Berea College in Kentucky, she was invited to speak at churches, community groups, colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. She now has expanded her reach to include business associations, professional conferences, elected officials and church and civic organizations.

She has taught about race and gender relations at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina. She also was the program coordinator for programs on race, gender and gender-based violence at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

By the early 2000s, Tutu had become a recognized speaker on race relations and gender issues. With her famous name, she was able to take her talents to the next level and share her passions in a variety of ways. In 2006, she stepped down from her position as associate director of the Office of International Programs at Tennessee State University and devoted her life to public speaking.

“I am really excited that Nontombi Naomi Tutu is coming to our campus,” said sophomore Julia Carney. “I personally have a passion for preventing gender-based violence. I have worked a lot with our local Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) shelter and I like to see that people are really working to fix this issue at a global level.”

Tutu has described her life mission as being “to lift girls and women above the limitations of race, economics and gender,” according to a 2004 Detroit Free Press article.

She has worked to help women gain a powerful voice and use their community- building skills.

In addition to tackling gender and race issues, she has been working to help her home country’s government. South African laws previously were hostile to both women and people of color. South Africa’s first democratic elections were held in 1994, and Tutu served as an election observer.

WWU’s President’s Concert and Lecture Series brings speakers and top entertainment to campus for the enjoyment of students and the community. For more information on the speech, contact Brenda Foster at