28 March 2022

Statement from the Archbishop Tutu IP Trust…

The monumental task of making the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s body of work publicly accessible for posterity has begun.

While the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation last week launched the Truth to Power exhibition in Cape Town, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust has begun uploading a wide-ranging and little-known series of television messages recorded by the Archbishop over the years onto a specially created YouTube site.

The recordings made for events that the Archbishop couldn’t attend in person encompass:

The personal (such as birthday wishes for President Mandela, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Queen Rania), to Support for non-profit organisations (the Cancer Association and Hospice and Palliative Care Association, for example), to Activism (calls for justice in the Holy Land, against xenophobia, in support of women in Myanmar etc).

“Most of the messages are unknown beyond the audiences who attended the events for which they were recorded. They are special because they speak to the Archbishop’s super-sized sense of pastoral duty. The subject matter is diverse; each message a strand in a complex tapestry revealing a whole human being,” said chairperson of the Trust Dr Mamphela Ramphele.

“We speak of technology having reduced the world to a global village. The Archbishop understood that a village built on foundations of inequality, bullying, nationalism and injustice was undesirable and unsustainable.

“He understood the primacy of our inter-dependence, as human beings. He embodied the yearning of many people for a new approach to leadership based on shared human values of equality, compassion and sustainable custodianship of the earth,” Dr Ramphele said.

The first batch of 70 messages have been linked to the Trust’s website ( – with hundreds more to be loaded. To access the material click on the tab, In His Own Words.

“We know of about 500 of these messages recorded over the last 20 years of the Archbishop’s life, which will be posted online. We also know that there are messages we don’t know of. At some point in the process, we’ll be putting out a call for people who know the whereabouts of additional messages to contact us with the view to our developing a fully comprehensive resource,” Dr Ramphele said.

“The television messages are but one strand of the archive we must build to ensure that the Archbishop’s teaching and wisdom is available to scholars, historians, theologians and leaders now and forever,” Dr Ramphele said.

“There are important collections of his sermons, letters and speeches housed in various academic institutions, locally and internationally, and the Legacy Foundation has gathered together and collated a large quantity of artefacts.

“We have a vast job ahead of us weaving the strands together, physically and virtually, to present a full and usable archive of the Archbishop’s work for generations to come – his heirloom for humanity.

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust, incorporating the Office of the Founders, was established by Archbishop and Mrs Tutu to act as legal guardian and custodian of their intellectual property rights and legacy. They wanted to free the Foundation of the burden of running their personal office and affairs, and allow it to focus on programmes and projects to keep the Founders’ work relevant and alive.