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Archbishop Desmond Tutu is seen in 2000. ((Tony Tribble/Associated Press))

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu announced Thursday he is retiring from public life later this year when he turns 79.

The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town said that after his birthday on Oct. 7, he will limit his time in the office to one day per week until February 2011.

"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 said in a statement Thursday.

"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."

In recent weeks, a jovial Tutu appeared at several World Cup events. He gave a speech to thunderous applause at the tournament's opening concert and was also seen dancing in his seat at the VIP section at the opening ceremony.   

It is Tutu who labelled South Africa the "rainbow nation of God" to celebrate its diverse cultures. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, then used his international stature to step up the campaign against apartheid.