Desmond Tutu Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Desmond Tutu Net Worth 

Desmond Tutu has an estimated net worth of $3 million. Nobel Peace Prize award-winner Desmond Tutu was a renowned South African Anglican cleric known for his staunch opposition to the policies of apartheid. He earns most of his income from his clergy career. 

Desmond Tutu began his career in education before transitioning to theology and eventually becoming one of the world’s most prominent spiritual leaders. Tutu was appointed general secretary of his country’s Council of Churches in 1978, and he quickly rose to prominence as a leading advocate for the rights of Black South Africans.

During the 1980s, he played an almost unrivaled role in drawing national and international attention to the injustices of apartheid, and for his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Later, he presided over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and he has continued to raise awareness of a variety of social justice issues over the years.

To calculate the net worth of Desmond Tutu, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Desmond Tutu
Net Worth: $3 Million
Monthly Salary: $10 Thousand
Annual Income: $120 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Clergy

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Early Life and Education

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, on October 7, 1931. His father was an elementary school principal, and his mother worked as a cook and cleaner at a blind school. Tutu’s childhood South Africa was strictly segregated, with Black Africans denied the right to vote and forced to live in specific areas. Tutu understood as a child that he was treated worse than white children for no reason other than the color of his skin, so he resolved to make the best of the situation and still have a happy childhood.

“We knew, yes, we were deprived,” he later recalled in an interview with the Academy of Achievement. “It wasn’t the same for white kids, but it was as full as a life could be. I mean, we made wire toys for ourselves, making cars, and you were literally bursting with joy!”

Tutu recalled walking with his mother one day when a white man, a priest named Trevor Huddleston, tipped his hat to her — the first time he had seen a white man pay this respect to a Black woman. Tutu was profoundly affected by the incident, which taught him that he did not have to accept discrimination and that religion could be a powerful tool for advocating racial equality.

Tutu was a bright and inquisitive child who loved to read. He particularly enjoyed reading comic strips, Aesop’s Fables, and William Shakespeare plays. Tutu’s family eventually relocated to Johannesburg, and it was during his adolescence that he contracted tuberculosis, which he recovered from after spending a year and a half in a sanatorium.

The experience fueled his desire to become a doctor and find a cure for the disease. Tutu went to Johannesburg Bantu High School, an all-Black school that was grossly underfunded but where he excelled academically. “…many of the people who taught us were very dedicated, and they inspired you to want to emulate them and truly become all that you could become,” Tutu said at the Academy of Achievement. “They gave the impression that, yes, the sky is the limit. You can reach for the stars, despite all of the obstacles that stand in your way.”

Tutu graduated from high school in 1950, and despite being accepted into medical school, his family was unable to pay the high tuition. Instead, he accepted a scholarship to study education at Pretoria Bantu Normal College, where he received his teaching certificate in 1953. In 1954, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa.

Tutu returned to his high school alma mater after graduation to teach English and history. “”I tried to be to these kids what my teachers had been to me,” he said, “seeking to instill in them pride, pride in themselves.” They were proud of what they were doing. A pride that stated that they may define you as such and such. You’re not that. Make sure you prove them wrong by becoming what your potential tells you you can be.”

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Fighting Apartheid

Tutu grew increasingly frustrated with apartheid’s corruption of all aspects of South African life. The National Party took control of the government in 1948, formalizing the country’s long-standing segregation and inequality as the official, rigid policy of apartheid.

The government passed the Bantu Education Act in 1953, which lowered the educational standards for Black South Africans in order to ensure that they only learned what was required for a life of servitude. The government spent one-tenth as much money on educating a black student as it did a white student, and Tutu’s classes were overcrowded. He quit teaching in 1957 because he was no longer willing to participate in an educational system that was explicitly designed to promote inequality.

Tutu enrolled at St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg the following year, in 1958. In 1960, he was ordained as an Anglican deacon, and in 1961, he was ordained as a priest. Tutu left South Africa in 1962 to pursue further theological studies in London, where he earned his master’s degree in theology from King’s College in 1966.

He then returned from four years abroad to teach at the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice, Eastern Cape, as well as serve as the University of Fort Hare’s chaplain. Tutu accepted a position as a lecturer in theology at the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland in Roma in 1970. Two years later, he decided to return to England to accept a position as associate director of the World Council of Churches’ Theological Education Fund in Kent.

Tutu’s international prominence began in 1975, when he became the first Black person to be appointed Anglican dean of Johannesburg. In this capacity, he emerged as one of the most prominent and eloquent voices in the South African anti-apartheid movement, which was especially significant given that many of the movement’s prominent leaders were imprisoned or exiled.

Tutu wrote a letter to South Africa’s prime minister in 1976, shortly after he was appointed Bishop of Lesotho, raising his international profile even further, warning him that failure to address racial inequality quickly could have dire consequences, but his letter was ignored.

Tutu was appointed as the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978, making him the first Black citizen to hold the position, and he continued to use his elevated position in South Africa’s religious hierarchy to advocate for the abolition of apartheid. “So, I never doubted that we would be free, because I knew there was no way a lie could triumph over the truth, darkness over light, death over life,” he said.

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Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

According to the award’s committee, Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 “not only as a gesture of support to him and the South African Council of Churches, of which he was a leader, but also to all individuals and groups in South Africa who, with their concern for human dignity, fraternity, and democracy, incite the admiration of the world.”

Tutu was South Africa’s first recipient of the award since Albert Luthuli in 1960. His acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize transformed South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement into a truly international force with widespread support. Tutu was also elevated to the status of a renowned world leader, whose words drew immediate attention.

Tutu and Nelson Mandela

Tutu was appointed Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, and a year later he became the first Black person to be appointed Archbishop of Cape Town in the South African Anglican Church. He was also appointed president of the All Africa Conference of Churches in 1987, a position he held until 1997.

Tutu’s eloquent advocacy and brave leadership were instrumental in the end of South African apartheid in 1993, and Nelson Mandela was elected as the country’s first Black president in 1994. The archbishop was given the honor of introducing the new president to the nation. Tutu was also appointed by President Mandela to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was tasked with investigating and reporting on atrocities committed by both sides in the apartheid struggle.

Continued Activism

Tutu officially retired from public life in the late 1990s, but he continued to advocate for social justice and equality around the world, focusing on issues such as tuberculosis treatment, HIV/AIDS prevention, climate change, and the right of the terminally ill to die with dignity.

In 2007, he became a member of The Elders, a group of seasoned world leaders that meets to discuss ways to promote human rights and world peace, including Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter, and others.

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Desmond Tutu Books

Tutu also penned several books over the years, including No Future Without Forgiveness (1999), the children’s title God’s Dream (2008) and The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016), with the latter co-authored by the Dalai Lama. 


Tutu was regarded as one of the world’s foremost human rights activists. His teachings, like those of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., went beyond the specific causes for which he advocated to speak for all oppressed peoples’ struggles for equality and freedom.

Tutu’s unwavering optimism in the face of overwhelming odds, as well as his limitless faith in humanity’s ability to do good, may have contributed to his universal appeal. “Despite all of the ugliness in the world,” he once said, “human beings are made for goodness.” “Those who are regarded favorably are neither militarily nor economically powerful. They have made a commitment to make the world a better place.”

Personal Life

On July 2, 1955, Tutu married Nomalizo Leah. They were married until his death on December 26, 2021, and had four children.

Further Reading

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