Steve Bantu Biko was a thinker, freedom fighter and maybe even a prophet. His words were unmatched and his thoughts on the state of the black man unparalleled. He saw more than what the ordinary eye saw and would not be hoodwinked into believing the hype of token liberation. Biko saw the inconsistency and fragility of African “independence” and even commented that, “If we have a mere change of face of those in governing positions what is likely to happen is that black people will continue to be poor, and you will see a few blacks filtering through into the so called bourgeoisie. Our society will be run almost as of yesterday.”
Steve Biko said, “The Black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity.”
This was why he started the Black Consciousness movement: to “infuse people with pride and dignity.”
Here was a man who knew that having black masters did not solve the problem of oppression or put to an end the misery of the black man. Considering that many African countries are either remotely controlled by Western powers or a few white citizens, Biko’s words of wisdom have become the running narrative of modern Africa.
However, he left black people nuggets of wisdom to reassert themselves in a world that consistently undermines their worth.
Describe yourself as Black!
In his evidence given at the SASO/BPC trial in 1976, Biko said, “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. By describing yourself as Black you have started on the road to 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.”
If the black man is to be respected by the world, he needs to accept that he is black and be proud of it. Self hating blacks are the whole reason other races are not challenged to respect blacks. If the black man cannot respect himself, it is foolhardy to expect respect from whites.
Blackness is a Mental Attitude, Being non-white is a matter of pigmentation
In The Definition of Black Consciousness, Bantu Biko wrote, “Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.” He went on to assert that, “…we can see that the term black is not necessarily all-inclusive, i.e. the fact that we are all not white does not necessarily mean that we are all black.
Non-whites do exist and will continue to exist for a long time. If one’s aspiration is whiteness but his pigmentation makes attainment of this impossible, then that person is a non-white.”