Steve Biko, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death

    

Steve Biko

anti-apartheid activist in South Africa

Date of Birth: 18-Dec-1945

Place of Birth: King William's Town, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Date of Death: 12-Sep-1977

Profession: writer, politician, civil rights advocate, trade unionist

Nationality: South Africa

Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius


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About Steve Biko

  • Bantu Stephen Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977) was a South African anti-apartheid activist.
  • Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he was at the forefront of a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s.
  • His ideas were articulated in a series of articles published under the pseudonym Frank Talk. Raised in a poor Xhosa family, Biko grew up in Ginsberg township in the Eastern Cape.
  • In 1966, he began studying medicine at the University of Natal, where he joined the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS).
  • Strongly opposed to the apartheid system of racial segregation and white-minority rule in South Africa, Biko was frustrated that NUSAS and other anti-apartheid groups were dominated by white liberals, rather than by the blacks who were most affected by apartheid.
  • He believed that even when well-intentioned, white liberals failed to comprehend the black experience and often acted in a paternalistic manner.
  • He developed the view that to avoid white domination, black people had to organise independently, and to this end he became a leading figure in the creation of the South African Students' Organisation (SASO) in 1968.
  • Membership was open only to "blacks", a term that Biko used in reference not just to Bantu-speaking Africans but also to Coloureds and Indians.
  • He was careful to keep his movement independent of white liberals, but opposed anti-white racism and had various white friends and lovers.
  • The white-minority National Party government were initially supportive, seeing SASO's creation as a victory for apartheid's ethos of racial separatism. Influenced by the Martinican philosopher Frantz Fanon and the African-American Black Power movement, Biko and his compatriots developed Black Consciousness as SASO's official ideology.
  • The movement campaigned for an end to apartheid and the transition of South Africa toward universal suffrage and a socialist economy.
  • It organised Black Community Programmes (BCPs) and focused on the psychological empowerment of black people.
  • Biko believed that black people needed to rid themselves of any sense of racial inferiority, an idea he expressed by popularizing the slogan "black is beautiful".
  • In 1972, he was involved in founding the Black People's Convention (BPC) to promote Black Consciousness ideas among the wider population.
  • The government came to see Biko as a subversive threat and placed him under a banning order in 1973, severely restricting his activities.
  • He remained politically active, helping organise BCPs such as a healthcare centre and a crèche in the Ginsberg area.
  • During his ban he received repeated anonymous threats, and was detained by state security services on several occasions.
  • Following his arrest in August 1977, Biko was severely beaten by state security officers, resulting in his death.
  • Over 20,000 people attended his funeral. Biko's fame spread posthumously.
  • He became the subject of numerous songs and works of art, while a 1978 biography by his friend Donald Woods formed the basis for the 1987 film Cry Freedom.
  • During Biko's life, the government alleged that he hated whites, various anti-apartheid activists accused him of sexism, and African racial nationalists criticised his united front with Coloureds and Indians.
  • Nonetheless, Biko became one of the earliest icons of the movement against apartheid, and is regarded as a political martyr and the "Father of Black Consciousness".
  • His political legacy remains a matter of contention.

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