Long Live Steve Biko

Today I pay tribute to Stephen (Steve) Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement and martyr of the Anti Apartheid struggle in South Africa. He died on September 12, 1977 after being beaten to death while in police custody. Steve Biko is an inspiration to me. When I study abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, who Steve Biko had two children with. It was such an honor for me to take pictures with Dr. Ramphele knowing that she also played an instrumental role in the Black Consciousness Movement.

Steve Biko was a spiritual and charismatic man. He was an amazing speaker. A man so powerful that he was banned from speaking in South Africa or having his writings published. He therefore went on to write using the pseudonym, Frank Talk. His book, I Write What I Like, is a book that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in learning more about Steve Biko.

I believe that if Biko was alive, he would have been the president of South Africa after Nelson Mandela. I admired  Biko for being the revolutionary that many South Africans needed at a time where Mandela and many other freedom fighters were in prison. It was Biko who tapped into the student movement and organized the student movements in South Africa under the South Africa Student Organization (SASO). To read more about Steve Biko and his role as the president of SASO read this article: http://countrystudies.us/south-africa/29.htm

To learn more about Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement, here are the 3 videos where Biko speaks about his movement.

Here is a rare interview on Steve Biko.

Here are some of my favorite Steve Biko quotes:

We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man’s mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds.
Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time. Its essence is the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression – the blackness of their skin – and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.
Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being.

It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.

Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.
The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity.

This song became famous during the Anti Apartheid Movement.

September ’77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

When I try to sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are
watching now
watching now

Long Live, Steve Biko!!!

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