SA drifting from Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe's ideals

Steve Biko outside the King William's Town magistrate's court in July 1977, two months before he was killed. / Daily Dispatch
Steve Biko outside the King William's Town magistrate's court in July 1977, two months before he was killed. / Daily Dispatch

September 12. It was on this day that Steve Biko was transported naked, half-dead, on an open van from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria in 1977.

He had met his fatal injuries refusing to succumb to Afro-phobic monsters that were attempting to humiliate and dehumanise him.

He stood up to them because he believed that to succumb would be to betray the dignity of all black people.

He died defending the dignity of black people.

His life was about urging black people to overcome their fears, to restore their dignity and human worth. Of course, his influence resulted in Onkgopotse Tiro's open defiance at Turfloop in 1972; the courage to openly celebrate Frelimo's victory over colonialism in Mozambique in 1974; his explosive testimony at the SASO/BPC Trial in 1975/6 and the ultimate explosion of Soweto in June 1976.

His death in 1977 unleashed international sanctions that collapsed apartheid. May his spirit live forever.

We are probably cursed that our ancestors can send us a saviour and we choose to follow those who lead us to the clutches of others where we can only play second fiddle.

We are where we are because we have never forgotten to "render the country ungovernable", we continue to do so whenever we have a grievance.

Of course, we have forgotten that "Blackman you are on your own", self-reliance is out of the window and we are sitting ducks to be bribed because we have no sense that we are ourselves capable to do things for ourselves.

We have not heeded Robert Sobukwe's words in our choice of leadership, "true leadership demands complete subjugation of self, honesty and integrity, uprightness of character, courage and fearlessness, and above all, a consuming love for one's people".

Dr Kenosi Mosalakae, Houghton

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