South African freedom fighter and Nobel Peace Prize winner, former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, announced his retirement from public life during the first week of October.
“The Arch,” as he is known in his country, made good on a pledge he issued in July in a televised interview with the Reuters News Service that he would retire to spend more time with his family when he turned 79 on Oct. 7.
“The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos 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,” Tutu said at the time.
“Thank you to my colleagues, past and present, for doing all the work and allowing me to take the credit,” he said.
As an Anglican cleric, Tutu used his bully pulpit to condemn the then-de jure system of apartheid in his country, angering the White minority goverment which arrested and briefly jailed him once after a protest and revoked his passport twice, actions that were reversed, however, after international outcries.
For his advocacy, Tutu was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace prize for his ” role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa,” according to the press release announcing his nomination. Two years later he became the first Black archbishop of Cape Town.
That unifying role was again acknowledged in 1994 when newly elected President Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the body charged with scrutinizing human rights abuses that occurred during the apartheid years.
Said fellow Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama about Tutu’s resignation, “For decades he has been a moral titan, a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker.”
“We will miss his insight and his activism, but will continue to learn from his example. We wish the archbishop and his family happiness in the years ahead,” Obama said in a statement.
In his retirement, Tutu said he will eschew media interviews, and will step down from a university post in South Africa and his work with a U.N. commission on preventing genocide. He will continue his work with his peace foundation and with The Elders, a council of global statesmen.
Echoing the words of Nelson Mandela, Tutu said Oct. 7: “As Madiba said on his retirement: Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”