Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Desmond Tutu potrait

Desmond Mpilo Tutu (1931- ) is an advocate of peace through reconciliation and worked to fight the system of apartheid in South Africa. Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal. Tutu went to Johannesburg Bantu High School and then attended Pretoria Bantu Normal College. Because he could not afford medical training, he studied to be a teacher. In 1954, Tutu graduated from the University of South Africa. He and Normalizo Leah Shenxane were married in 1955. They would eventually have four children. After earning his degree, Tutu taught high school for three years. He left this profession because of the deteriorating standards of education for black students.

Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.

After teaching, Tutu turned his attention toward the church. He studied theology and was ordained in the Anglican Church in 1960. He studied in England from 1962-1966 and earned his Master’s of Theology. He spent the next ten years teaching theology in both South Africa and England. In 1975, he returned in Johannesburg as the first black Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral. He began to rise through the church hierarchy in South Africa. He was Bishop of Lesotho from 1976-1978 and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of South African Council of Churches. Throughout these changes in position, Tutu constantly criticized the South African government and apartheid. He traveled around the world speaking out against the evils of apartheid and would not be silent even when the government repeatedly revoked his passport. Tutu believed in nonviolence as the way to bring about change and reconciliation.

Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument. Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.

In 1984, Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to peacefully resist apartheid. In 1985, he was appointed the first black bishop of Johannesburg. In 1986, Tutu became the first black Archbishop of Cape Town, a position which made him the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.

As apartheid came to an end in the mid-1990s, Tutu served his country as the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He retired as Archbishop in order to devote full time work to this commission and the church gave him the title Archbishop Emeritus. In 1998, he stepped down as chair of the commission and founded the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust. In 2003, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report. Tutu continues to speak out against oppressive governments and areas where violence overtakes peace throughout the world. He has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates from countries all over the world. Tutu serves as a constant reminder of the importance of working for peace and reconciliation.

Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.

Desmond Tutu at Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996