Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu is South African Anglican bishop and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position.
Tutu was confirmed dead on December 26, 2021 at the age of 90 after a long ilness.
Desmond Tutu came under the limelight during the 1980s apartheid movement in South Africa and was a great opponent of the Apartheid being active in fights for the rights of the oppressed. He is a recipient of Nobel Peace Prize, Gandhi Peace Prize, Sydney Peace Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In his four decades of public life, Desmond Tutu was quite vocal on several issues close to his heart. He expressed his thoughts through his speeches, quotes, writings, columns and books, which include homosexuality and the Church, fashion, reconciliation, justice, apartheid, and sanctions.
Here is a selection of some of his memorable quotes on a range of topics.
18 famous quotes by Desmond Tutu:
1. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” -Desmond Tutu.
2. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality” -Desmond Tutu.
3. “Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering; remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you dont want to repeat what happened” -Desmond Tutu
4. “My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right” -Desmond Tutu.
5. “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low” -Desmond Tutu.
6. “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another” -Desmond tutu
7. “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land” -Desmond Tutu.
8. Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing” -Desmond Tutu.
9. “We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!” -Desmond Tutu.
10. “None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family” -Desmond tutu.
11. “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others” -Desmond Tutu.
12. “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family” -Desmond Tutu.
13 “Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes” -Desmond Tutu.
14. “Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back” -Desmond Tutu
15. “It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul” -Desmond Tutu.
16. “Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, cherish one another and care for one another and seek the greater good of the other” -Desmond Tutu.
17. There comes a point when we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in” -Desmond Tutu.
18. Give a man a fish and feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize how fishing is stupid and boring.