John Allen is a South African journalist with experience in newspapers, news agencies, a journalists’ union, churches and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He helps manage Africa’s biggest news website, allAfrica.com.
He became a journalist out of school at 18, joining The Star, Johannesburg, where his reporting included political trials, education and the churches. After 11 years and a short spell with the SA Press Association, he became a full-time official of a journalists’ union—which he also served as president—for five years.
He became press secretary to Desmond Tutu—upon whom he had reported since 1976—after Tutu was elected Anglican archbishop of Cape Town in 1986. In 1996 he moved with Tutu to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in 1998 accompanied Tutu to run his office at Emory University in Atlanta in the United States for two years.
Upon leaving Tutu’s office in 2000, he helped the founders of All Africa Global Media in Washington DC to establish allAfrica.com. From 2000 to 2004, he was director of communications at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, (incorporating St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway) where he helped the parish leadership during and after the attack on the World Trade Center of September 11. He has won awards in South Africa for defence of press freedom and in the U.S. for excellence in church journalism.
John Allen returned to South Africa in 2004 to write “Rabble-Rouser for Peace”, a biography of Desmond Tutu. He also assisted the telecommunications staff of the Anglican Communion Office in London to launch a website showcasing news from Anglican churches around the world. In 2008 he edited his third collection of Tutu speeches, sermons and writings, under the title “God is not a Christian”.
Since 2006 he has worked for allAfrica.com from his base in Cape Town, and since 2013 he has also acted as communications adviser to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.
He lives in Cape Town with his wife, Liz, whom he married in 1972. One son, John-Murray, is married to Kendra and they have (in 2018) one child. The other, Tim, founded The Tertiary Readiness Programme in Cape Town.
Press: a print-quality photograph of John Allen is available here.