Teachings of Biko still relevant

Oupa Ngwenya

Oupa Ngwenya

The morality of frank talk derives its roots from one of the finest but daring young minds that this country has proudly bestowed to the entire black world - Steve Bantu Biko.

The blessedness of blackness was never so perceptively demonstrated than in a column that Biko aptly signed as Frank Talk.

To date, mention of frank talk invokes a scholarly voice that millions of boys and girls will grow to embrace as their own to affirm both their blackness and humanity.

In time, the road map of Frank Talk should provide a compass needle to all enquiring minds that have not as yet given up that this country will someday be given the human face that Biko so fearlessly lived and died for. The everlasting reference to this aspired humane society still calmly lies in the pages of Biko's book, I write what I like.

What then are the signs by which ordinary people can begin to develop hope that another world is possible? First, they must begin to accept that it is their primary responsibility to confront the sadness of their daily circumstances and, in the process of that confrontation, remove the authors of their misery. It is nonsensical for the aggrieved to delegate the termination of their pain to the very people responsible for the generation of their plight.

For those who may have erroneously thought that the hoisting of a new flag and adoption of the new constitution, post March 21, 1996, blew the final whistle to end struggle and liberation, think again. Both the Constitution and the flag give no licence to the unchanging circumstances that have survived April 27, 1994 for most of the struggling people.

Inaction against poverty, disease, crime, deceit, greed and ineptitude is, in fact, an act of disdain to the flag and the Constitution. Similarly, those who earn without working - they make our young worship crime - are not less dishonourable to the flag and Constitution than public representatives who take political office to minister to their selfish interests as opposed to serving the people.

And who said that liberators ought to be treated with kid gloves when they enter the corridors of power and prove no different to their former oppressors? When liberators begin to do wrong things they must be given the same taste of medicine initially reserved for oppressors who harboured no pretences to do right.

In essence, the struggling majority have no business to tolerate oppression when it is one of their own who is at the helm.

But for the oppressed to reach that degree of unrelenting dispassionate judgment, their souls must be free, their minds decolonised, their language free of their previous tormenters' imperial trappings, and their vocabulary rich with words of people who are conscious of themselves, and who dare to dream and dare to fight to change the world for the better.

For those who still dream of giving this country a human face, you will find in Biko's frank talk a moving script and fighting chance by which to get there.

l Oupa Ngwenya is a former general secretary of the Forum of Black Journalists