Biko taught us the power of an idea

About this Article

Today 40 years ago, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko was brutally murdered by a government which saw the power of his ideas as a threat to an unjust system of racial injustice.

Biko stood for the idea which said that we are not defined by the colour of our skin or the shape of our nose, but by the content of our character. Moreover, he taught us that ideas – and the freedom to promote and defend these ideas – has the power to shape the future and create a just and fair society for all.

40 years on, and our challenge is to build a post nationalist society, where it is not a competition of races, but where the rights of all individuals – whether black or white – can be protected and advanced. Moreover, today marks a moment to reflect on how we advance the dignity of those who are still left behind. We can and we must build an inclusive and prosperous society for all.

Steve Biko’s murder was a watershed moment in the struggle for freedom for black South Africans, and today we celebrate and commemorate his legacy. We now have a rights based constitution thanks to the struggle symbolised today by the death of Steve Biko. Each day, we as South Africans must protect these rights, and work hard to ensure that freedom is not just an intangible idea – but a right which truly liberates black South Africans from the legacy of apartheid.

It is now our responsibility to ensure that the ideas Steve Biko died for are upheld, and that we continue to fight discrimination and injustice in all forms. This is the legacy that Steve Biko left behind, and a legacy we must all honour.

5 YEARS LATER, WE'RE STILL WAITING FOR JUSTICE

The Farlam Commission Report was released over 2 years ago, but nothing has been done since then to provide closure on the greatest tragedy of our young democracy.


  • Khanyisa Dazuka

    “Biko stood for the idea which said that we are not defined by the colour of our skin or the shape of our nose, but by the content of our character. “, wrong black guy. That was Martin Luther King Jr

  • Khanyisa Dazuka

    This is what Steve Biko said about WHITE PEOPLE:

    “First the black-white circles are almost always a creation of white liberals. As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with the blacks, they call a few “intelligent and articulate” blacks to “come around for tea at home”, where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question “how can we bring about change in South Africa?” The more such tea-parties one calls the more of a liberal he is and the freer he shall feel from the guilt that harnesses and binds his conscience. Hence he moves around his white circles – whites-only hotels, beaches, restaurants and cinemas -with a lighter load, feeling that he is not like the rest of the others. Yet at the back of his mind is a constant reminder that he is quite comfortable as things stand and therefore should not bother about change. Although he does not vote for the Nats (now that they are in the majority anyway), he feels quite secure under the protection offered by the Nats and subconsciously shuns the idea of a change. This is what demarcates the liberal from the black world. The liberals view the oppression of blacks as a problem that has to be solved, an eye sore spoiling an otherwise beautiful view. From time to time the liberals make themselves forget about the problem or take their eyes off the eyesore. On the other hand, in oppression the blacks are experiencing a situation from which they are unable to escape at any given moment. Theirs is a struggle to get out of the situation and not merely to solve a peripheral problem as in the case of the liberals. This is why blacks speak with a greater sense of urgency than whites’.

    A game at which the liberals have become masters is that of deliberate evasiveness. The question often comes up “what can I do?”. If you ask him to do something like stopping to use segregated facilities or dropping out of varsity to work at menial jobs like all blacks or defying and denouncing all provisions that make him privileged, you always get the answer -“but that’s unrealistic!”. While this may be true, it only serves to illustrate the fact that no matter what a white man does, the colour of his skin -his passport to privilege -will always put him miles ahead of the black man. Thus in the ultimate analysis no white person can escape being part of the oppressors camp……

    This description of “metaphysical guilt” explains adequately that white racism “is only possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty” meted out to the black man. Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society ,liberals waste lots of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal. This arises out of the false belief that we are faced with a black problem. There is nothing the matter with blacks. The problem is WHITE RACISM and it rests squarely on the laps of the white society. The sooner the liberals realise this the better for us blacks. Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track. White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society-white racism.”

  • Khanyisa Dazuka

    Basically DA you just exposed yourselves. You clearly haven’t read any of Biko’s writings.