Human Rights Activist Desmond Tutu to Retire

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After a life in the public eye, defending human rights in South Africa, and becoming one of the world’s most recognized advocates of peace, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has decided to retire later this year when he turns 79.

In a statement, the anti-apartheid activist and Nobel laureate explained why: “Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family — reading and writing and praying and thinking — too much of my time has been spent at airports and in hotels.”

Tutu, an Anglican minister, had already retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and left his chairmanship of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998. Since then he has been a global advocate for a variety of causes. He has also been chair of a group called The Elders, an organization of world leaders including former president Jimmy Carter, former United Nations secretary Kofi Annan, and Ela Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association.

His involvement with the group will continue as will his work with the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, he said.

“The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos (redbush) tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses,” he said.

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