Tutu, 84, checked into a Cape Town hospital earlier this week. While the cause of the infection is unknown, his family has reported it is unrelated to the prostate cancer he has been living with for the past 20 years. Doctors will rely on antibiotics to treat him, as this commonly available medicine has cured patients with infections since the 1940s.
The former Anglican bishop rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid, a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the South African National Party. Under this system of oppression, the rights of the majority of black inhabitants and other ethnic groups were limited and the white minority maintained rule.
Tutu was seen as a social rights activist who used his influence in the church to speak against apartheid, which ended in 1994. He fought to end AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia during his tenure as archbishop in Cape Town.
Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, the Ghandi Peace Prize 2007, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 for his efforts.
Once apartheid ended Tutu retired as archbishop in 1996, and was made emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town. He has since worked as a global advocate for the oppressed, and in 2006, developed a program that ensures the correct documentation of all children born throughout the world in order to combat sex trafficking.
Tutu is viewed as an inspiration to many around the world. His biggest fans back home in Cape Town are wishing him a fast recovery, with the Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille saying “On behalf of the City of Cape Town, I wish to extend our well wishes to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu while he undergoes treatment in hospital,” to All Africa.
Tutu’ family says they will release more information when it becomes available.