Desmond Tutu Family & Personal Life

Desmond Tutu’s middle name ‘Mpilo’ means ‘Life’ in Sotho. This not only reflects on his rich professional career and his activism against apartheid, but also on his lively personal life.

Desmond Tutu’s family

On July 2nd, 1955 Desmond Tutu married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane (aka. Leah Tutu), a teacher who he met while being at college. They have four children and seven grandchildren together.

The official names of their four children are: Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu.

The picture on the left is an old portrait showing Desmond Tutu (top left) with his wife Leah (top right) and their four children according to age: from bottom left to bottom right, you see Trevor (the couple’s only son), Theresa, Naomi and Mpho. All of his children are now adults.

Leah Tutu

Besides from taking care of the family, Desmond Tutu’s wife, Leah was also able to build up a rich professional career, being one of the founders of the South African Domestic Workers Association (SADWA). Countinue reading about Leah Tutu.

Trevor Tutu

Trevor TutuTrevor Tutu is the eldest child and only son of Desmond and Leah Tutu. He was named after Tutu’s mentor and fellow Apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston. Trevor Tutu was born in 1956, when Desmond was still a school teacher.

Trevor hasn’t led a very quiet life. During the years there were several confrontations with the authorities and he has spend some short periods in jail. Besides that, there are also claims of an unrecognized daughter in Canada and an alcohol addiction.

The most ‘famous’ incident was in 1989 when he falsely claimed a bomb threat after boarding a South African Airlines plane at East London Airport. Trevor was arrested and the flight to Johannesburg got delayed for several hours. Trevor first forfeited his bail and afterwards didn’t show up to start his prison time. He was finally arrested in Johannesburg in 1997, but applied for amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was granted amnesty, but this move was highly criticized since his father Desmond Tutu was co-founder and chairman of the commission.

Theresa Tutu

Thandi TutuTheresa Tutu, also known as Thandi Tutu is the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tutu. She leads a more or less anonymous life but regularly turns up on speeches, conferences and other gatherings together with her father or representing him.



Naomi Tutu

Naomi TutuNaomi Tutu Stepped into her father’s footsteps and is now a internationally recognized speaker and human rights activist. She studied at several colleges and universities: she holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Economics from Berea College, Kentucky; a Master’s degree in International Economic Development from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.

Naomi Tutu also founded the Tutu Foundation for Development and Relief in Southern Africa, an organisation based in Connecticut, USA. The foundation’s goal is to provide scholarships and other help to South African refugees.

Mpho Tutu

Mpho TutuMpho Andrea Tutu is the youngest daughter of Desmond and Leah Tutu. She is currently living in Virginia, USA together with her husband Joseph Burris and their two daughters, Nyaniso and Onalenna.

Same as her father, Mpho Tutu has a rich professional career. She is an Episcopal priest, but also the executive director and founder of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, Chairperson Emeritus of the board of the Global AIDS Alliance, Chairperson of the Board of Advisors of the 911 Unity Walk and a Trustee of Angola University.

In 2010, she wrote a book about human goodness together with her father. The book is called Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference and talks about the scientific basis for the belief that all humans are good by nature.