This page is dedicated to Steve BIKO
Who is Steve Biko
Born in the Eastern Province, actual Eastern Cape, on 18 December 1946, Stephen Bantu Biko was a popular activist and voice of Black liberation in South Africa in the 1960s.
A Leader Amongst leaders
The wicked Apartheid System had banned the African National Congress and any other prominent political movement standing up against apartheid. Black population were highly receptive to the prospect of a new organisation that could carry their grievances against the Apartheid state. Thus it was that Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement came to prominence and although Biko was not its only leader, he was its most recognisable figure. It was Biko, along with others who guided the movement of student discontent into a political force unprecedented in the history of South Africa.
Biko and his peers were responding to developments that emerged in the high phase of Apartheid, when the party in power for almost two decades, the National Party was heavily finding new ways to implement its horrendous policies of oppressive regime against the indigenous Black population. The NP went about untangling what little pockets of integration and proximity there were between White, Black, Coloured and Indian people by creating new residential areas, new parallel institutions such as schools, universities and administrative bodies, and indeed, new ‘countries’, the tribal homelands.
The Black Community Programs
Steve engaged in several projects in the his country despite random bans and unjustified provocations by the Apartheid system and evil leaders. The Black Convention Party ran projects that created home industries, Njwaxa Home Industries being one of these. These were attempts, often successful, to create businesses and employment. Njwaxa manufactured leather goods and clothes, employing about 50 people in 1974. A further 70 people were employed by the Border Council of Churches, in collaboration with BCP.
Steve set up the Ginsberg Educational Fund, which provided bursaries for students, many of them going to Fort Hare University. The fund, run by Malusi and Thoko Mpumlwana, Nohle Mohapi and Charles Nqakula, grew to include recipients in other Eastern Cape areas.
Help For Young Mothers
Steve also helped revive the Ginsberg Creche to look after toddlers whose mothers needed to leave their homes to go out to work.
The state banned Steve in March 1973 and confined him to the magisterial district of King William’s Town. He returned to Ginsberg, and moved for a while into his mother’s house in Leightonville, the address to which he was restricted by his banning order.
More Community Projects
The Black Consciousness Movement, together with the Study Project on Christianity in Apartheid Society (Spro-cas), set up a branch for community activities, called Black Community Programmes (BCP), in January 1972. The BCP embarked on a series of projects, including community development programmes in King William’s Town, Winterveldt and other areas.
After quitting medical studies he undertook in August 1972, for being heavily involved in serving the black community through the BCP, Biko described the situation as:
“Essentially to answer the problem that the Black man is a defeated being who finds it very difficult to lift himself up by his boot strings. He is alienated; He is made to live all the time concerned with matters of existence, concerned with tomorrow. Now, we felt that we must attempt to defeat and break this kind of attitude and instil once more a sense of dignity within the Black man. So what we did was to design various types of programmes, present these to the Black community with an obvious illustration that these are done by the Black people for the sole purpose of uplifting the Black community. We believed that we teach people by example.”
The Apartheid Regime Fear
Steve Biko was making a great impact on the lives of the Black masses. And this deeply troubled the regime and their diabolical objectives of oppression and tyranny.
At the beginning of 1976, Biko’s banning order was tightened, and he could no longer operate as the director of BCP.
Following Biko’s testimony at the SASO/BPC trial, students in Soweto, who had throughout the year been protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, organised a huge protest on June 16, 1976. Police, confronted by thousands of angry school pupils opened fire, killing hundreds of pupils. The Soweto youth uprising, and the police’s brutal response, sent shockwaves throughout the world, and the Apartheid regime was condemned even by its allies in the West.
A severe crackdown on BC activists followed the uprising.
Many anti-Apartheid leaders were arrested or killed by the wicked oppressors. On 27 August 1976, at the height of the Soweto uprising, Steve was arrested and held in solitary confinement for 101 days.
Role Of Unifier
Steve Biko was also a unifier. He used his colossal influence and charisma to try and conciliated the many anti-Apartheid movements, including the ANC that were fighting to desperately put an end to apartheid.
Biko will be remembered not only as a hero of the so called South African country, but also the whole of African continent.