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Saturday, September 16, 2017


Steve Biko, the father Black Consciousness Movement during the Apartheid era in South Africa

Steve Biko, the father Black Consciousness Movement during the Apartheid era in South Africa

Steve Biko: Greater than Mandela?

Like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, the man known as the father of the Black Consciousness movement, played a significant role during the Apartheid era, seeking the freedom of the oppressed South Africans. His writings, he named ‘I write what I like’ were considered as a security threat to the Apartheid government.  

He was arrested at a police roadblock in August 1977 and held under the country's terrorism legislation. While in Pretoria prison, he was beaten to death but the government lied he died on hunger strike. His autopsy revealed he died of brain hemorrhage.  

Below are some of his great quotes that caused fear within the Apartheid government of South Africa.

1. I'm going to be me as I am, and you can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I'm not going to be what you want me to be.

2. It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die

3. It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change is 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.

4. The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

5. I would like to remind the black ministry and indeed all black people that God is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people's problems on earth.

6. 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.

7. Being black is not a matter of pigmentation - being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.

8. 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.

9. Change the way people think and things will never be the same

10. When you say 'Black is beautiful' you are saying, 'Man you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being'.

11. The wealth of the country must eventually be enjoyed by people of the country

12. If one is free at heart, no man-made chains can bind one to servitude.

13. We have set out on a quest for true humanity, and somewhere on the distant horizon, we can see the glittering prize. Let us march forth with courage and determination, drawing strength from our common plight and our brotherhood [and sisterhood]. In time we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible--a more human face.

Mourners gather to pay their last respects as Steve Biko's body lies in state at his home.

Mourners gather to pay their last respect as Steve Biko's body lies in state at his home.

14. A community is easily divided when their perception of the same thing is different.

15. WOMEN must be at the forefront of nation-building to bring the South African citizenry together and, therefore, develop a whole new ethos of human co-existence.

16. What Black Consciousness seeks to do is to produce real black people who do not regard themselves as appendages to white society. We do not need to apologise for this because it is true that the white systems have produced through the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people.

17. People must be aware of their problems in a realistic way. They must be able to analyse their problems and to work out common solutions. In other words, a community is easily divided when their perception of the same thing is different.

18. A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine.

19. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.

20. So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.

21. We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer to the varied problems of life. Hence in all, we do we always place man first and hence all our action is usually joint community-oriented action rather than the individualism.

22. Black Consciousness, therefore, takes cognizance of the deliberateness of God's plan in creating Black people black.

23. 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.

24. You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can't care anyway.

“White people will fully understand the cruelty and the wickedness of the black man, if black people will rise against the white man and do exactly what they did to black people in slavery, colonialism, Apartheid, killing, hanging, racism, discrimination, burning and lynching, but we shall not do that because black people are civilized.”- Joel Savage

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