Our Patrons

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a prominent world figure for peace and human rights. Born in 1931, Tutu was first a teacher. He became a priest in 1961 and continued his religious studies until 1966. From then on Desmond Tutu has held increasingly prominent positions within the Anglican Church. Throughout his life, he has spoken out against apartheid and the treatment of black people in South Africa.

During the era of apartheid Tutu advocated reconciliation. He encouraged civil disobedience and disinvestment in South Africa in order to pressure the government to dismantle apartheid. Despite escalating violence, he unwaveringly urged people to work together peacefully to end apartheid, and he gave support to fellow activists, throughout the most challenging times. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1985 Tutu became the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and later served as president of the All Africa Conference of Churches. In 1991 the government repealed apartheid laws and in 1994 Nelson Mandela, as president of South Africa, asked Archbishop Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since then, the Commission has become a world-wide model for post-conflict procedures.

BBC Radio 4 Appeal: Listen to Desmond Tutu making an appeal on behalf of Coda International.

Nelson Mandela

From 1993 until his death in 2013, Nelson Mandela was one of Coda’s patrons, becoming so at a time when CODA International was involved in addressing the imbalance of resources and training available to the black community.

How our patrons got involved

“CODA was set up 20 years ago. It supported the ANC in exile in Zambia giving it access to the world media. After apartheid ended it helped establish the first computer centre in a South African township. It was at that time that Nelson Mandela and I became patrons of CODA. We saw that in South Africa people would change their lives only if they had access to knowledge, technology and skills, and changing people’s lives is still at the heart of what CODA does. This is not work done by foreign aid workers who leave when the project is over, this is the community standing up for itself. This is change that lasts.”