Father Desmond Tutu announced today that he is retiring from public service. The tireless anti-apartheid crusader who has been called the “conscience of Africa” says he wants to enjoy the remainder of his days with his family and watching cricket. His announcement has inspired an outpouring of love and support from the public. (BBC News has dedicated an section on their website to people’s memories of the Archbishop).
The video above shows Father Tutu’s indelible sense of humor, during his speech at the 2008 Freedom Awards. He presented the Frederick Douglass award to Ghanian freedom fighter James Kofi Annan (shown briefly in a reaction shot). Annan was a childhood slave who toiled on fishing boats. He is now the founder of Challenging Heights, which provides shelter and education for other child survivors of slavery.
In 2003, Father Desmond Tutu joined Free the Slaves’ board as International Advisor. Father Tutu sent us a characteristically humble and touching letter to accept the position. He wrote, “Thank you for this opportunity to, once again, publicly declare my commitment to ending modern slavery. As you know, my heart has been in this struggle for decades. If there is one abuse that offends our conscience in every way, it is the enslavement of a human being. No child should be born without hope; no person should live without freedom.”
Free the Slaves is eternally grateful for Father Tutu’s support, love and light. He showed us that standing up for the freedom of all people is not only the right thing to do—it is the only thing to do. And we can do it with a smile.
Recently, Father Tutu wrote the forward to a book of photographs by Lisa Kristine, titled, simply, “Slavery.” Produced by Free the Slaves, the monograph depicts the extent of slavery all over the world. Stay tuned for more news about this book, which is set to be released next month.