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Desmond Tutu officially began his retirement on Thursday, bringing the curtain down on a career that saw him win a Nobel Peace Prize for battling apartheid before emerging as South Africa's conscience.
Tutu announced in July that he would step down from public life on his 79th birthday, which he will celebrate on Thursday on board a cruise ship docked in Cape Town, where he served as archbishop for the Anglican Church.
“He's serious about quieting down,” Tutu's spokesman Dan Vaughan told AFP. “He will now be refusing most of the interview requests he receives.”
Tutu is currently lecturing on board a ship packed with 600 university students on a five-month voyage around the world, which ends in December.
His retirement has been greeted with doubt in South Africa that Tutu will actually step away from public life, with no coverage of his retirement in national media.
Tutu is planning to continue his work with The Elders, a group of leading statesmen that includes South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela, and with a group of fellow Nobel laureates that speaks out against injustices around the world.
Tutu is also still working to develop the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, where the organisation is building a new complex to house his peace projects.
The archbishop made port in Cape Town on Sunday and plans to celebrate his birthday and his retirement with friends later in the day, Vaughan said.
“The ship happens to be in Cape Town today, and he'll be having a birthday celebration on board with friends,” Vaughan said.
Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent struggle against apartheid, establishing himself as the voice of the nation's conscience.
In the years since, he proved indefatigable in leading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to uncover the horrors of apartheid-era abuses.
Tutu never shied away from shining a spotlight on modern South Africa's failings, while travelling the globe to promote efforts at peace from the Middle East to the Solomon Islands. - Sapa-AFP
It is long overdue. Go home and rest old man. Like you always say, be like Madiba. Stop interfering on South African politics and let the ANC run the country.
Ruth Mohapeloa, wrote
Happy Birthday Tutu. Hope you are serious about getting out of the public eye. God Bless You.
george dlongolo, wrote
happy birthday arch may God give many more
tutu likes to tute own horn all the time, a terrorist in disguise, bet his osamas long distant relative
STEPHEN ECKERSLEY, wrote
HAPPY BIRTH DAY TO YOU ARCHBISHOP DESMON TUTU MAY GOD ALMIGHTY BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN GOOD HEALTH , ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU MAY RETIRE FROM PUBLIC LIFE "BUT" YOU CAN NEVER RETIRE FROM "CHRIST'S WORK" RUN THE RACE BROTHER, GOD BLESS YOU.
Tutu has too big an ego to step out of the limelight. He will always seek maximum publicity, whatever he's doing. He was like that in the church, even before he became archbishop; he'll be like that until he departs this mortal coil.
Happy Birthday Arch !! May God bless you with many more. We sure will miss your voice of reason and calm logic amidst all this current mess in which we find ourselves today. Have a well deserved rest, you really are a shining example of fine humanity !!
BLESSINGS ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. MAY YOU BE SPARED FOR MANY MORE. PLEASE KEEP YOUR EAGLE EYE ON US SOUTH AFRICANS.
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