- Title: SOUTH AFRICA/FILE: Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu celebrates his 79th birthday
- Date: 8th October 2010
- Summary: MILNERTON, NEAR CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (OCTOBER 7, 2010) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE DESMOND TUTU, SAYING: "I may often appear to have been the one up there in front, but I could not, but I could not be there without all of these, many many people who were supportive especially through prayer."
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2010 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACKPEGAJSJ2M8JYZVDH1ZM8LCH
- Story Text: South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu celebrated his 79th birthday on Thursday (October 7) and says he received a call from the former President Nelson Mandela.
"I mean I've already had telephone calls, Madiba (Nelson Mandela) called to wish me a happy birthday, which is wonderful and I just want to say thank you to all the people the people who are wishing me a very happy birthday," Tutu said in an interview with Reuters.
Tutu, who became a global figure for using his church pulpit to help bring down apartheid announced two months ago that he would retire from public duties later this year.
He said he wants time with his family and to 'sip tea in the afternoons.' Tutu said he would step down after his birthday and would dedicate more of his time with his family and spend time watching cricket.
"I really want to engage in the contemplative life because you know, often when people are in love they just want to sit and be together and I want to try that with God, but also have some quality time with the mother of my children, " added Tutu.
The congenial Tutu, who retired more than a decade ago from his post as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, has established a peace foundation, advised political leaders, served in a council of retired global statesmen and women and had been an active public speaker.
He was most recently in the public eye when he spoke at several events for South Africa's hosting of the soccer World Cup, which many said was one of the most important events in the country's history after the end of apartheid 16 years ago.
"I may often appear to have been the one up there in front, but I could not but I could not be there without all of these, many many people who were supportive especially through prayer," Tutu said.
He will continue to offer his support for his peace foundation but plans to step down from a university post in South Africa, his work with a U.N. commission on preventing genocide and will no longer give media interviews.
But he said he would continue working with the council of statesmen, known as The Elders.
Tutu's position in the church gave him a prominent national platform from which to criticise the apartheid system and he repeatedly called for equal rights and a common education system His outspokenness incurred the wrath of the white minority-ruled South African government, which tried to prevent him traveling widely by revoking his passport. This move was reversed after intense international criticism.
International recognition for his work came most notably in 1984 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Two years later, he became Archbishop of Cape Town, the first black African to serve in this position.
"I would like us to be as we were during the World Cup, but more than that you know, when we were involved in the struggle against apartheid, we were not intending that, all you do is to change the complexion of the people who sit in parliament, who sit in offices in the Union Building, we were intent on creating, building a new kind of society, a society that is compassionate, caring, a society where everybody, we don't say, everybody would be rich, but everybody knew, hey, I matter, I matter in this country, my point of view is taken seriously, I am someone," said Tutu.
Tutu is currently on a five month lecturing ship voyage, the work he is doing at his Peace Centre and with the Global Elders Council will continue.
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