Founding Patron

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, renowned for his part in the struggle for freedom in apartheid, South Africa, for being a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and for chairing the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the patron of AFLI. He is a remarkable leader, a global icon of moral and just leadership, and a pioneer for peace and non-violent resolution to conflict and non-racism. He is our role model and his values and philosophy lie at the heart of our organisation.


The African Leadership Institute and the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship have been selected as projects that must uphold the legacy of Archbishop Tutu.  To that end, on June 28, 2017, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and AFLI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which bestows legacy status on AFLI and the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme as legacy projects. 

The MoU formally recognizes the important role of the Institute and the Fellows in perpetuating the legacy of the Archbishop and upholding the values he cherishes most – integrity, morality, ubuntu, servant leadership.  His message to each cohort of Tutu Fellows, since 2006, has been consistent: 

“I want you to stand up against the evils that may pervade your society, be they corruption, greed, discrimination, intolerance, abuse or whatever. But I also want you to be the positive creators of opportunities for others to share the benefits of success and endeavour. Empowering and enabling others to succeed is as important and as rewarding as fighting inequalities. Caring, humility, vision and passion are hallmarks of great leaders. I look to you to be the generation that drives the transformation of Africa and I, particularly, look to the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to be at the forefront of change. You are blessed with the talents of leadership but with these, come enormous responsibilities.  I hope you are prepared to take up the challenge.”

 Mourning the death of Archbishop Tutu

On 26 December 2021, AFLI joined countless others in mourning the death of Archbishop Tutu.  In a statement, Tutu Fellows said they recognised "the weightiness of bearing his name – at once, an honour and a responsibility. We do not take it for granted." The statement said that "even as we mourn the passing of our dear Patron, we celebrate a life of service well lived and the values and ideals he espoused and bequeathed to us - ubuntu, servant leadership, integrity, humility, compassion and courage. We remember a man who was diminutive in stature but larger than life in his boldness, always speaking truth to power when the occasion demanded."  

Read the full statement.


About AFLI



The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) focuses on building the capacity and capability of visionary and strategic leadership across the continent. Developing exceptional leaders representing all spheres of society, the Institute’s flagship programme is the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Offering a multifaceted learning experience and run in partnership with Oxford University, it is awarded annually to 20-25 carefully chosen candidates, nominated from across Africa. Alumni of the African Leadership Institute form a dynamic network of Fellows passionately committed to the continent’s transformation, bridging the divide between nations and ensuring that Africa is set centre-stage in global affairs.