South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who was born on December 18th, 1946, is credited with developing the Black Consciousness Movement in the late 1960s along-side empowering and mobilizing the black community’s in South Africa. In an effort to promote the concerns of Black students at the then-University of Natal, accompanied with the failure of The National South African Students’ inability to adequately represent the demands of the black students; Steven Biko created SASO in 1968. (later KwaZulu-Natal)
SASO, which in full means South African Students Organization, was a group of South African university students who engaged in political activism to oppose apartheid in 1968. SASO offered a platform for organization amongst the black students who attended the university and created the Black Consciousness school of thought, contending that political emancipation cannot occur without psychological liberty. They provided black South Africans with a fresh perspective on who they are and where they fit in their nation. In contrast to more established organizations like the African National Congress and the Pan African Congress, SASO provided a fresh perspective on liberation that was driven by a younger generation.
The goal of black awareness, in Steven Biko’s words, was to create authentic black people who do not perceive themselves as dependent on white society at the other end of the process. Black consciousness in Apartheid South Africa sought to unify people over the root of their oppression. Steven Biko even helped establish the Black People’s Convention (BPC) to spread Black Consciousness ideologies to a larger audience.
popularized and often expressed owing to the fact that he strongly believed that black people needed to rid themselves from thinking that they were the racial inferiority, which was being
The phrase, “Black is Beautiful” was
promoted at the time.
Despite his efforts, Steven Biko’s activities were severely constrained in 1973 when the government issued a banning order after coming to view him as a potential subversive danger. He received several anonymous threats while under suspension, and the state security agencies arrested him multiple times. Against all odds, that didn’t stop Steven Biko’s strive for racial equality, he continued to be politically engaged. He aided with the establishment of Business Community Plans in the Ginsberg neighborhood, including a medical facility and a daycare center. But sooner or later, this hero’s story had to come to an end. Despite all his great accomplishments in the strive for racial equality in South Africa, State security agents beat Biko to death after his detention in August 1977 and his funeral was attended by about 20,000 people.
Biko’s prominence grew after his death as he was the subject of several songs, pieces of art, and the 1987 film Cry Freedom was based on a 1978 biography written by his friend Donald Woods. Nevertheless, Biko rose to prominence as one of the first figures in the anti-apartheid struggle and is revered as the “Father of Black Consciousness” as well as a political martyr.
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This article was written by Maya Mitala.