Bantu Steve Biko, sometimes known as Stephen Biko, was a Bantu who lived from December 18, 1946, to September 12, 1977. He was the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, a grassroots anti-apartheid movement that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s in South Africa. In terms of ideology, he belonged to the African nationalist and socialist movements. He wrote a lot of statements explaining his opinions under the pseudonym Frank Talk.
Early Life and Education
Steve Biko was born on December 18, 1946, in Tarkastad, Eastern Cape, at the home of his grandmother. He was raised in Ginsberg township in the Eastern Cape and grew up in a Xhosa family, a poor one. In Whittlesea, his parents got hitched. He was also Mzingaye Mathew and Alice “Mamcete” Biko’s third child. Bukelwa, Khaya, and Nobandile were his three siblings. In Whittlesea, his parents got hitched.
When he was younger, Biko was given the moniker “Bantu,” which is IsiXhosa for “people,” which he mistook for “Goofy,” “Xwaku-Xwaku,” and “Umntu ngumntu ngabantu” (“a person is a person by way of other people”) because of his scruffy appearance. He was brought up in the Anglican Christian tradition of his family. Biko’s father fell ill in 1950, was admitted to St. Matthew’s Hospital in Keiskammahoek, and died there. Biko was four years old at the time.
Biko spent two years at St. Andrews Primary School and four years at Ginsberg’s Charles Morgan Higher Primary School. Because of his reputation as an unusually smart student, he was permitted to advance a year. He switched to the Forbes Grant Secondary School township in 1963. Biko excelled in math and English and was the best student in his class. In 1964, the Ginsberg neighborhood gave him and his brother Khaya a scholarship to Lovedale, a prominent boarding school.
From 1964 to 1965, Biko attended the Catholic boarding school St. Francis College in Mariannhill, Natal. He first became politically aware at the school because of its liberal political climate. He had a keen interest in the idea of replacing the white minority administration in South Africa with a black majority one. Ahmaad Boumediene of Algeria was one of the anti-colonialist leaders who later became Biko’s idols.
Biko applauded the “terribly good organization” and bravery of many of the PAC’s members, but he was dismayed by the organization’s racial discrimination practices. He refused to be swayed by its racially restricted tactics, however, and argued that all races should unite to destroy the government. He went to Zwelitsha in December 1964 to participate in the ulwaluko circumcision ceremony, which marked the symbolic passage from childhood to manhood.
Biko’s immediate community prevented him from pursuing his first desire to enroll in law school because they believed it was too closely tied to political activity. He was admitted to the University of Natal Medical School on a scholarship in 1966. He joined a group of students from all around South Africa there that his historian, Xolela Mangcu, described as “a remarkably sophisticated and cosmopolitan group of pupils.” A large number of them later held significant positions in the post-Apartheid era.
The late 1960s saw a global heyday of radical student politics, as seen by the 1968 uprisings, and Biko was prepared to take part in it. He was chosen to serve on the Students’ Representative Council not long after enrolling at the college (SRC).
Biko once more became a member of NUSAS, a group vehemently opposed to South Africa’s Apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule. Biko became upset that white liberals, not the black people who were most affected by apartheid, dominated NUSAS and other anti-apartheid movements after learning that the group was predominated by whites. Biko was a vocal critic of South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule.
Even well-intentioned white liberals, in his opinion, frequently acted paternally and lacked knowledge of the black experience. He played a crucial part in the establishment of the South African Students’ Organization because of his conviction that black people needed to form their own autonomous organizations in order to combat the beginning of white rule in Africa in 1968. (SASO). Only individuals who spoke Bantu as well as coloreds and Indians were allowed to join, and Biko coined the term “blacks” to describe them.
Despite having white friends and rejecting anti-white prejudice, he made care to keep his movement and ideals separate from those of white liberals. Because they considered SASO as a victory for the apartheid movement’s racial separatist concept, the government of the white-minority National Party initially supported it.
After being influenced by the African-American Black Power Movement and the Martinican philosopher Frantz Fanon, Biko and his companions created Black Consciousness as SASO’s official creed. The movement fought for the end of apartheid, the implementation of universal suffrage, and the development of a socialist political system in South Africa.
It created Black Community Programmes (BCPs) and placed a strong emphasis on the psychological empowerment of black people. Black people should let go of any notion of racial inferiority, according to Biko, who popularized the expression “Black is Beautiful.” In order to promote Black Consciousness ideals among the general public, he contributed to the establishment of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) in 1972.
When the government put a ban on Biko’s activities in 1973 as a result of its growing concern about his possible subversive threat, his activities were severely curtailed. He persisted in his political activism, contributing to the construction of BCPs in the Ginsberg neighborhood, such as a hospital and a daycare center. While he was suspended, he received numerous threats that were not his.
Four times, Biko was brought into custody and each time, he was detained for a long time. In August 1977, he was brought into custody and held at Port Elizabeth, the southernmost city in South Africa. The following month, on September 11, Biko was located far away in Pretoria, South Africa, bound and nude. On September 12, 1977, he passed unexpectedly from a cerebral hemorrhage that was later determined to have been brought on by injuries he sustained while being detained by the police.
South Africans were outraged and protested when they learned of Biko’s passing, and he soon gained recognition as a global anti-apartheid figure. Over 20,000 people witnessed his funeral.
Biko wed Ntsiki Mashalaba in 1970. The Nkosinathi and Samora, the couple’s two sons. Later in 1977, he wed Mamphela Ramphele, a prominent figure in the Black Consciousness Movement, and the couple had two children: a son named Hlumelo who was born in 1978 and a daughter named Lerato who was born in 1974 but died at the age of two months from pneumonia. Biko also wed Lorraine Tabane, his third wife. Motlats, a daughter, was a blessing for both of them.
After his passing, Biko’s notoriety increased. Numerous songs and works of art have been written about him, and the 1987 movie Cry Freedom was based on a biography written by his friend Donald Woods in 1978. Throughout his life, Biko faced accusations of misogyny from several anti-apartheid activists, accusations of hatred for white people from the government, and criticism from African racial nationalists for his alliance with colored and Indian people. The “Father of Black Consciousness” and a political martyr, Biko still became well-known as one of the pioneers in the anti-apartheid campaign. The question of his political legacy is still open.
In addition, “Biko,” a successful record in 1980 that was dedicated to him by English singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, was soon banned in South Africa. The song assisted in bringing anti-apartheid ideas into Western popular culture together with other anti-apartheid music. Theater performances were also performed in honor of Biko. The Biko Inquest, a play that dramatized the inquest into his death, was originally presented in London in 1978. Albert Finney directed a performance of it in 1984 that was televised.
In 1979, a mountaineer scaled the spire of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to unfurl a banner bearing the names of Biko and imprisoned Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt. Anti-apartheid activists utilized Biko’s name and memory in their demonstrations.
Authors like Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Léopold Sédar Senghor, James Cone, and Paulo Freire had an impact on Biko. Particularly the Martinique-born Fanon has been credited with profoundly influencing Biko’s conceptions of emancipation. Biko’s biographer, Xolela Mangcu, expressed caution that his opinions were not entirely his own but rather derived from discussions with other black students who had long been opposed to white liberals.
Black Consciousness and Empowerment
Biko disputed the apartheid government’s categorization of South Africa’s people as “whites” and “non-whites,” which was depicted on signs and construction projects all over the country and was based on Fanon’s work. Biko perceived the phrase “non-white” as demeaning and used it to categorize people according to their lack of whiteness. Biko therefore replaced the phrase “non-white” with the adjective “black,” which he thought to be neither disparaging nor affirmative.
Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement used the term “black” to refer to people who spoke Bantu, as well as Colored and Indian people, who together made up almost 90% of South African society. He described blackness as a “mental attitude” rather than a “matter of pigmentation,” referring to “blacks” as “those who are by law or tradition politically, economically, and socially discriminated against as a group in the South African society.”
Biko was not a Marxist and thought that the main political driver of change in South Africa would be racial oppression rather than class oppression. primarily because they want to keep racial issues away from us. in case their race has a detrimental impact on them.
Foreign and domestic relations
The Bantustan system, according to Biko, was “the biggest single hoax ever conceived by white politicians” because it was designed to create tribal divisions among the Bantu-speaking people of Africa. He vocally criticized Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the head of the Zulu nation, alleging that his cooperation with the South African government violated the constitutional rights of the Zulu people. He believed that those opposed to apartheid in South Africa should work with those battling anti-colonial movements abroad and with those combating racial prejudice and discrimination globally. Also among his hopes was a global economic boycott of South Africa.
In a post-apartheid society
Biko believed that in the future, a socialist South Africa would become a completely racial-free society, with people of all ethnic backgrounds living side by side in harmony under a “joint culture” that combined the best elements of all cultures. He disagreed with the protection of minority rights because he believed that doing so would maintain racial inequality. Instead, he was in favor of the one-person, one-vote principle. After conversing with Woods, he altered his perspective regarding multi-party systems from one that first backed one-party governments for Africa and claimed that one-party states were fit for the continent. Although he regarded individual liberty as beneficial, he believed that social stability, employment, and access to food were more crucial.
Biko reiterated to Woods during their discussion of BCM that “it isn’t a nasty, hating thing. It’s a healthy black self-confidence thing that involves no animosity toward anyone. Although he admitted that there may still be a “fringe element” with “anti-white resentment,” he continued, “To be honest, it’s not one of our top objectives or one of our primary concerns. Liberating Blacks is our top priority. In other places, Biko argued that a vanguard movement was necessary to guarantee that in a post-apartheid society, the black majority would not seek retaliation against the white minority. He claimed that in order to avoid this, the black population would need to be taught how to live in a society without race.
Biko was hailed as the “Father of the Black Consciousness Movement” and the movement’s initial symbol against apartheid. Nelson Mandela justified the Nationalist Government’s “need to kill him to maintain the life of apartheid” by calling him “the spark that kindled a veld fire throughout South Africa.” In the introduction to an anthology of his writing published in 2008, Manning Marable and Peniel Joseph stated that Biko’s passing had “produced a vivid emblem of black resistance” to apartheid that “continues to inspire new black activists” more than ten years after the change to majority rule. Bino was referred to as “one of South Africa’s most accomplished political strategists and communicators” by communication studies professor Johann de Wet.
Biko has written different quotes on various subjects.
- “Black man, you are on your own.”
- “The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
- “It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die.”
- “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.
- 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.”
- “Black consciousness is in essence the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression.”
- “At the time of his death, Biko had a wife and three children, for whom he left a letter that stated, in part: “I’ve devoted my life to seeing equality for blacks, and at the same time, I’ve denied the needs of my family.” Please understand that I take these actions, not out of selfishness or arrogance, but to preserve a South Africa worth living in for blacks and whites.”
- “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.”
- “What black consciousness seeks to do is 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 throughout the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people. “
Steve Biko’s net worth from his salary has accumulated to $1.5 million.