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Desmond Tutu To Retire From Public Life

NEW YORK - Human rights activist and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu announced today that he will retire from public life later in the year.

Tutu served as the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1978–1985. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work through SACC. He served as archbishop of Cape Town and primate of Southern Africa from 1986-1996, and was appointed chair of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995.

Tutu was one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and frequently led demonstrations and spoke out publicly on the world stage in support of democracy and civil rights.

Tutu said his retirement will begin Oct. 7 on his 79th birthday and that he looks forward to spending more time with his family rather than at airports and conferences.

"Time has now come to slow down, sip Rooibos tea with my wife in the afternoon, watch cricket, and travel to visit children and grandchildren rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses," Tutu told a July 22 media briefing at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town.

He said he would honor all existing appointments but would not add any new engagements to his schedule, and that he would limit his working time to one day a week until his office winds down in February 2011.

Tutu was among 16 people honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President Barack Obama at an August 2009 awards ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

"With unflagging devotion to justice, indomitable optimism, and an unmistakable sense of humor, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu has stirred the world's conscience for decades," said Obama as he presented the medal, the United States' highest civil honor.

Obama acknowledged that Tutu had "helped lead South Africa through a turning point in modern history, and ... helped heal wounds and lay the foundation for a new nation. Desmond Tutu continues to give voice to the voiceless and bring hope to those who thirst for freedom."



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