Biko 'murdered by memory'

It is noteworthy that the joint programme of the Steve Biko Foundation and the newly established Biko Legacy Reference Committee is focused on literary and theatre works by, on and about Steve Biko.

It is noteworthy that the joint programme of the Steve Biko Foundation and the newly established Biko Legacy Reference Committee is focused on literary and theatre works by, on and about Steve Biko.

It is as if the initiative is paying homage to a cultural worker rather than a freedom fighter.

Biko is presented as if his only claim to fame is his monumental piece of literature, I Write What I Like, and that he died a gruesome death at the hands of the apartheid police.

He is not presented as a social and political activist who was the leader of a movement that straddled socio-political activism, mass mobilisation, community development and working class politics.

His writings, political activism and community work clearly articulate that rather than the ideologically neutral humanist he is portrayed as in this programme, Biko subscribed to the philosophy of Black Consciousness and his affinities were towards a pro-poor, pro-working class political agenda.

If not combated, these subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to distance Biko from the philosophy of Black Consciousness will result in turning him into a collectors' item the same way the media has done with Ernesto Che Guevara.

Simply put: Biko will be murdered again, this time by tampering with his memory. I believe others have described this process as "murder by memory".

Mphutlane Bofelo, Durban

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