STEVE BIKO: LEGEND OF A POLITICAL HERO (He sacrificed his life to make what South Africa is today)

The great Steve Biko

In the political history of South Africa, many are those who fought against the evil apartheid, oppression, mass arrests, detention without trial etc. Along the line with Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chief Buthelezi, etc in the struggle to emancipate blacks from hardships was Steve Bantu Biko, who died in detention before he could see the fall of apartheid years ago, in South Africa.

Although Steve Biko is gone, his great achievement and his part in the struggle to free South Africa, under the previous white minority rule, will always be remembered. Steve Biko, the man popularly known as the "Father of Black Consciousness Movement" was born in King William's Town, Cape Province in South Africa, on December 18, 1946. He lost his father at a tender age of four.

After his primary and secondary school education in South Africa, he left to Lovedale institution in Alice. He received his higher education at the Roman Catholic, Marianhill in Natal and entered the medical school of the University of Natal in 1965. As an active member of the National Union of South African Students, (NUSAS) his heart was increasingly in politics. He left NUSAS and formed the South African Students Organisation(SASO)

Regarded as one of the fearless critics in South Africa, along the line with Nelson Mandela, despite both having different views and options, Biko faced the white regime squarely. Not by violence, but through his writings, which he named "I write what I like" The white regime found his writings, as nothing but the simple truth and thought his letters posed a threat to national security. He writes----

Black consciousness seeks to talk to talk to the black man, in a language of his own. It is only by making familiar the basic set up in the black world, that one will be aware of the urgent need for the reawakening of the sleeping masses. 

He stressed, "It urges black people to judge themselves as human beings and not to be fooled by the white society, which has white-washed itself to enjoy privileges at the expense of blacks; Biko pointed out that the logic behind white domination is to prepare the Blackman to serve and give him respect. 

Even in sports, the Whitman wants to do everything for themselves, all by themselves, by keeping Blacks to stand at touchlines to witness the game they are playing.

In his writings, he always stressed and talked openly against whites, saying that "there is no doubt that the colour question in South Africa politics was originally introduced for economic reasons. Because the selfish white leaders installed a barrier between blacks and whites, so that they could enjoy what belongs to Blacks. 

In order to avoid influencing the various black groups in South Africa, which gave him much support and recognition, Steve Biko was arrested and detained many times under Section 6, of the Terrorism Act in South Africa.

In many cases, he was always released. But on August 18, 1977, when Steve Biko was arrested and detained under the same offence of terrorism, little did everybody know that he would not be seen again. He was taken to Port Elizabeth, stripped naked and tortured to death. His autopsy stated that he died of brain damage. Those responsible for his death lied that he died on hunger strike in detention.

It is unfortunate that, Steve Biko wasn't alive to see what he sacrificed his life for, the fall of apartheid. But on the eve of the 33rd anniversary of his death, it is worthwhile to say that "September 12 of every year, should be declared as a public holiday in the Republic of South Africa, in honour of that great man.

If a day in America, is observed as a holiday for the Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jnr, then late Steve Biko, should be given that recognition too in South Africa. Steve Biko died at the age of 31. He left behind a widow and two boys aged seven and three.