Let's strive to realise Steve Biko's ideals

Steve Biko.
Steve Biko.
Image: YALO

Today marks 41 years since Black Consciousness Movement leader Stephen Bantu Biko died in a prison cell in Pretoria at the hands of apartheid security police.

With drama in our current politics almost every day, it is easy to forget such significant dates on our national calendar - especially those that relate to Struggle personalities that were not aligned to the now governing ANC. But it would be a great mistake on our part as a people to wipe out Biko and other activists of his tradition from our collective memory.

At 30, Biko died too young. But in the short space of time that he spent walking the grounds of this land he fondly called Azania, he imparted valuable lessons that would remain relevant with us until we reach that society of true equality among humans.

None of us can say for sure where he would stand on current political issues that are vexing our nation. We can only speculate based on his beliefs, many of which are captured in his book - I Write What I Like.

But as we mark this anniversary, we encourage South Africans - especially the young - to revisit the ideas of great thinkers and liberation movement activists such as Biko; Robert Sobukwe; Neville Alexander and Anton Lembede.

Not only did they speak out against oppression, these leaders also devoted their time on thinking about how we can improve our condition as a people.

Biko, in particular, emphasised the need for total commitment to the people by those who sought to be leaders.

In a SA where politicians seem to be driven only by a desire for wealth and money, a dose of his teachings is urgently needed.

It was also Biko, perhaps, more than anyone, who propagated the gospel of self-love that goes counter to the apartheid-colonial teachings that made black people ashamed of themselves.

If we all internalised Biko's teachings, we would not be having our communities erupting into bouts of xenophobic violence against Africans and Asians from outside our country merely because they are immigrant and black.

We are by no means suggesting that Black Consciousness is a panacea for all our social ills, but studying and internalising Biko's message can make us a better people.

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