Steve Biko - Repleneshing Hope

April 23, 2012
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“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. In time we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible – a more human face”

These were the inspiring words spoken by a man who against all odds and adversities fought the horrendous machine of Apartheid shaking the foundations of South Africa and the world, a man who stood like a prophet amongst his oppressed people and became the voice of a whole generation, a man who struck fear in the heart of White South Africa, a man who overflowed with unconditional love for not only his black brothers and sisters but even for those who continually enslaved and demoralized his broken people. Yes ladies and gentleman, I am speaking of none other than Steve Biko.

Steve Bantu Biko born on the 18th of December 1946 rose up from the urban pits of black South Africa to become one of the most foremost figures in South Africa’s struggle for liberation from the Apartheid regime. Murdered by the police when he was only 30 he had already established himself as a leader through his work as a political activist and his writings on Black Consciousness. I feel somewhat ashamed having only discovered the revolutionary work and writing of Steve Biko about a year ago, the man was nothing short of breathtaking genius. His ideologies and philosophy brought about an awakening to the millions of restless and oppressed minds of blacks all around South Africa. Now you might be asking yourself, what exactly did Steve Biko do for us as a nation and what did he stand for?

Steve Biko growing up as a black man in Apartheid South Africa could not ignore or overlook the blatant suffering his people and all non – whites endured in their everyday lives. He knew that something had to be done and be done fast, he devoted his life to the emancipation of his people through the movement known as the Black Consciousness movement.

Black Consciousness is an attitude of mind and a way of life; it is seen as the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time. It is based on a self-examination which has ultimately led us to believe that by seeking to run away from ourselves and emulate the white man, we are insulting the intelligence of whoever created us black. The philosophy of Black Consciousness therefore expresses group pride and the determination of the black to rise and attain the envisaged self; Black Consciousness makes the black man see himself as being complete in himself.

We being people of the 21st Century find it hard to look back and relate to the heinous crimes committed in Apartheid, although racism and discrimination does occur today in the modern world it is nothing compared to the torment black people endured daily. Apartheid did not simply discriminate against blacks but it stripped them of their land which was the sacred home of their ancestors, it stripped them of their rich culture and heritage but most importantly it stripped them of their humanity. Blacks were seen as sub-humans, mere animals used for cheap labour, denied all off their rights and freedoms as human beings. Black Consciousness looked towards the black man, reminding him of his beauty, reminding him of his uniqueness and looking upon him saying you are beautiful, love and accept yourself for who you are. Black Consciousness awakened black people to their humanity, replenishing their hope for a new and better South Africa.

Watching the celebrations for our “Freedom Day” which celebrates the day in which the Apartheid regime was destroyed and a new South Africa born, I wonder whether my fellow South Africans, especially the black youth, take time to look back humbly giving thanks and express gratitude to those who fought ruthlessly for the beautiful nation we have built today. I hope that people see the importance and influence men such as Steve Biko have on our lives today.

Steve Biko saw the potential black people had and still do possess today, although we have been held back by the chains of Apartheid, we are free now to unlock our potential and pursue prosperity and one must ask himself, have we achieved our goals? Have the dreams of Steve Biko been fulfilled in today’s generation? And if not, then what is holding us back?

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