Desmond Tutu Quotes That Will Never Be forgotten

I’ve included some of the most powerful Desmond Tutu quotes in one post.

Desmond Tutu was born on October 7, 1931, and died  on December 26, 2021. He was a South African Anglican bishop and philosopher who was well-known for his anti-apartheid and human rights activism.

Page Content:

  • 30 Desmond Tutu Quotes
  • 10 Famous Desmond Tutu Quotes
  • 10 Tutu Quotes About Life, Faith and Peace
  • 5 Desmond Tutu Quotes About Forgiveness
  • Desmond Tutu Short Biography

30 Desmond Tutu Quotes

desmond tutu quotes
  1. There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.”
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2. “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”

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3. “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights.”

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4. “People are not born hating each other and wishing to cause harm. It is a learned condition.”

5. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid.”

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6. “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”

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7. “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

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8. “Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality, language creates the reality it describes.”

9. “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.”

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10. “It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.”

Desmond Tutu quotes

Famous Desmond Tutu Quotes

11. “In the Bible, we first encounter God when he sides with a bunch of slaves against a powerful Pharaoh, an act of grace freely given.”

12. “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.”

13. “What is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but an elite that tends to be recycled?”

desmond tutu quote do your little bit of good

14. “We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.”

15. “When a pile of cups is tottering on the edge of the table and you warn that they will crash to the ground, in South Africa you are blamed when that happens.”

16 “As human beings we have the most extraordinary capacity for evil. We can perpetrate some of the most horrendous atrocities.”

17. “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.”

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18. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

19. “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”

20. “Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.”

Desmond Tutu Quotes

Desmond Tutu Quotes About Life, Faith and Peace

21. “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

22. “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

23. “Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.”

24. “Universal education is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity, to pave the way toward making many more nations self-sufficient and self-sustaining.”

25. “We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.”

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26. “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.”

27. “What is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but an elite that tends to be recycled?”

28. “For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognize that we are humans, too.”

29. “You stand out in the crowd only because you have these many, many carrying you on their shoulder. “We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!”

desmond tutu neutral quote

30. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

31. “Though wrong gratifies in the moment, good yields its gifts over a lifetime.”

Desmond Tutu Quotes About Forgiveness

desmond tutu reconciliation quotes

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32. “Without forgiveness, there’s no future.” 

33. “Dear Child of God, I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional.” 

34. “A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.”

35. “To forgive is not just to be altruistic.”

A must Read: The Book Of Joy: Lasting Happiness In A Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu &  Douglas Carlton Abrams 

A truly remarkable book. It is packed with unbelievable anecdotes that make you smile, and the lessons it contains are priceless. Two of my favorite world figures, who come from radically different backgrounds and religions but are unquestionably brothers and who fervently support the cultivation of joy and happiness in our lives. Excellent writing

Desmond Tutu Short Biography

From 1985 to 1986, he was Bishop of Johannesburg, and from 1986 to 1996, he was Archbishop of Cape Town, making him the first black African to hold both positions. 

He served as general secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1978 until 1985. He rose to prominence as a vocal opponent of South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule. Despite warning the National Party leadership that opposition to apartheid would lead to racial bloodshed, as an activist, he emphasized nonviolent protest and international economic pressure to achieve democratic elections.

When President F. W. de Klerk freed Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990, Tutu served as a mediator between different black groups as the two led negotiations to end apartheid and create a multi-racial democracy. 

Following the formation of a coalition government led by Mandela after the 1994 general election. Tutu led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which would investigate previous human rights violations committed by both pro and anti-apartheid parties.

He was well-liked by South Africa’s black majority and was globally recognized for his anti-apartheid activities, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize and numerous foreign honors.

My favorite Desmond Tutu quotes are, “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” and ” “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.”

Additional Read:

Desmond Tutu Biographical

Desmond Tutu, Whose Voice Helped Slay Apartheid, Dies at 90

Desmond Tutu Fast Facts

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