Archbishop Desmond Tutu quotes: Christian leader’s best lines on everything from apartheid to fishing

The South African, who played a key role in ending racial segregation in his country, has died on Boxing Day aged 90

<p>From apartheid to how boring he felt fishing was - these are some of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s most memorable quotes (image: AFP/Getty Images)</p>

From apartheid to how boring he felt fishing was - these are some of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s most memorable quotes (image: AFP/Getty Images)

The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu aged 90 has led to a flood of tributes for a man who was credited with playing a major role in ending apartheid in South Africa.

Alongside Nelson Mandela, the Christian leader was a vocal critic of racial segregation in his country and the governments that enforced it.

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He also spoke out on a wide range of other issues in his lifetime, including homophobia, human rights abuses around the world and even his disdain for fishing.

Here’s a list of some of the best quotes to remember Archbishop Tutu by.

Desmond Tutu was known for his genial manner and sharp wit (image: AFP/Getty Images)

On apartheid

"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."

“How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?”

“I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”

“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.”

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

The Christian leader was a key voice against apartheid for much of his public life (image: AFP/Getty Images)

On homophobia

"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."

On the Israel-Palestine conflict

“I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of apartheid.”

As well as fighting apartheid, Desmond Tutu spoke out against racial and social injustices across the world (image: AFP/Getty Images)

On protest

"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."

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."

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

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

While he was a serious campaigner against racial injustice, Desmond Tutu also had a witty side (image: AFP/Getty Images)

On religion

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

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

On humanity

“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.”

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

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

“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.”

“It is true that when we harm others, we harm ourselves; but it is just as true that when we help others, we also help ourselves.”

“Renewing a relationship is a creative act. We make a new relationship. It is possible to build a new relationship regardless of the realities of the old relationship.”

“When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.”

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