Bantu Stephen Biko, commonly known as Steve Biko, is incontestably the pacesetter for black empowerment and vibrancy. Born on the 18th December 1946, within the conclave of his grandmother’s house in Tarkastad, Eastern Cape, the prospect couched in a Xhosa family grew up to be an African nationalist and Apartheid activist. Until his death in 1977, he established the South African Students’ Organization with its ideology known as Black Consciousness. The existence of Steve Biko was an all-important significant lesson for black people. Here are 5 reasons why the birth of Steve Biko signified a promulgation of Black Consciousness:
1) Instigated a formation which inspired early activism for blacks: Steve Biko was particularly interested in furthering a career in law, but after advices to dissuade from that ambition because of its close ties to political activism, he opted for medicine at the University of Natal Medical School in 1966. The 1960s was marred by different students’ protests around the world. Caught up in the euphoric charges, Biko was desperate to clinch an involvement. Upon his arrival at the university, he was subsequently elected into the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) which was an affiliate with the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). However, the aspirations of NUSAS was inconsistent with that of Biko’s. The entire membership was highly multiracial and only reflected predominantly the views of white people. Well, it made attempts to criticize apartheid, but was a little bit lenient at that. Opportunities were made available to only white members. This manifested in the NUSAS conference of 1967 when dormitory accommodation was made to only white and Indian delegates, and not the black students who were told to make use of the local churches. Biko and his fellow compatriots worked out, but this had intentionally changed his approach into confronting racism. Thus, a much more radical and black-oriented movement: South African Students’ Association (SASO) was formed. This gave rise to an unending cycle of anti-apartheid challenge.
2) Defined blackness: The road to freedom for Biko lies in the awareness of blacks to champion for freedom. The agenda of his movement solely focused on the psychological empowerment of black people. He believed that black people needed to distance themselves from the idea of seeing themselves racially inferior or second class. Thus, he popularized the slogan “black is beautiful”.
3) Sparked a revolution within the black mind (Black Consciousness): What was exactly black consciousness? Black Consciousness was an ideology of the South African Students’ Organization (SASO). Biko defined Black Consciousness as “an inward-looking process” that would “infuse people with pride and dignity”. This had a broader outlook into the way black people perceived things. For instance, the continual issuance of all things good to white; Biko believed it was one major step to unlocking the brainwash. Blackness is a mental attitude rather than a matter of pigmentation. The approach to activism centers around the psychological empowerment and a war against the feeling of inferiority complex. “Black is beautiful”, Biko asserted.The oppression was one based on class and must be tackled from there. Thus, community programs were spearheaded by BCM to translate development to deprived communities. Steve Biko is the father of the Black Consciousness Movement and the anti-apartheid movement’s first icon and fighter.
4) All hail St. Biko: apart from being the father of BCM, Biko is widely regarded as a martyr. A martyr in simpler terms refer to an individual who sacrifices his life for a cause. Biko, in that regard was willing to give it all. He gave his life for South Africans and black people in general. He faced scorn and humiliation since his humble beginning, which infact led him to expulsion from medical school. Nelson Mandela asserted that the Nationalist government “had to kill him to prolong the life apartheid”. Biko is an influencer of many political groups and activists.
It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die
5) An emblem of love: The remonstrances by Biko were not agendas meant to submerge white people. A contradictory description of the Nationalist government at that time. Two close friends of Biko, Woods and Wilson, debunked those complexities by reinstating that the South African revolutionary was not a hater of people. He just hated their ideas. It was uneasy to see Biko explode with rage. He was pragmatic in dispositions and rebuked at the right time. Cult personality was a disinterest to Biko. He was very keen on listening and never proclaimed himself as a leader.
So as a prelude, whites must be made to realize that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realize that they are also human, not inferior.
Steve Biko honorably died in 1977. This happened after being subjected to inhumane torture while in police custody.