Desmond Tutu announces imminent retirement from public life

By staff writers
July 23, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu has announced his intention to wind down his public engagements, when he turns 79 in October 2010.

"I think I have done as much as I can, and I really do need time for other things that I have wanted to do," Dr Tutu told a media briefing at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town.

He also thanked South Africans for their contribution to the world.

The internationally renowned campaigner for social justice, peace and human rights has recently been an active member of 'the elders', an informal group of senior statespersons - including the Dalai Lama and former UN chief Kofi Annan - who have built up great personal influence and are now able to use it to make humanitarian interventions across the globe.

Archbishop Emeritus Tutu is also a key figure in world Christianity. Former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, and a strong anti-apartheid activist in South Africa and internationally, he is a figure even those who are critical or organised religion and belief frequently warm to.

Campaigners for gay rights have lauded his outspoken criticism of the negative stance some churches and faith groups have taken to homosexuality, and his refusal of a stereotyped version of African Christianity being promoted by Christian conservatives.

Dr Tutu also played a key role in the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, which has acted as an inspiration to other similar initiatives in conflict situations across the globe.

He was an enthusiastic backer of the recent football World Cup in South Africa, but has argued that combatting poverty and exclusion is the real 'legacy' issue.

Desmond Tutu has had his own personal struggles too - including one against cancer.

In his later years he has continued to write and lecture across the world.


Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has written a foreword to Ekklesia's recent book, Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, edited by Simon Barrow and published by Shoving Leopard.


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