World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Steve Biko

Article Id: WHEBN0000028320
Reproduction Date:

Title: Steve Biko  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Steve Biko Foundation, Helen Zille, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), A Tribe Called Quest, Frantz Fanon
Collection: 1946 Births, 1977 Deaths, 1977 in South Africa, Anti-Apartheid Activists, Deaths by Beating, Deaths in Police Custody in South Africa, Existentialists, Extrajudicial Killings, People from King William's Town, Prisoners Who Died in South African Detention, Revolutionary Martyrs, South African Activists, South African Christians, South African Pan-Africanists, South African People Who Died in Prison Custody, South African Prisoners and Detainees, South African Revolutionaries, South African Writers, Steve Biko Affair, University of Natal Alumni, Victims of Police Brutality, Xhosa People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Steve Biko

Stephen Biko
Born Stephen Bantu Biko
(1946-12-18)18 December 1946
Ginsberg Township, South Africa
Died 12 September 1977(1977-09-12) (aged 30)
Pretoria, South Africa
Occupation Anti-apartheid activist
Spouse(s) Ntsiki Mashalaba
Children Nkosinathi Biko, Samora Biko, Lerato Biko, Motlatsi Biko and Hlumelo Biko[1][2]

Stephen Bantu Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977)[3] was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.

A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population. Since his death in police custody, he has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement.[4] While living, his writings and activism attempted to empower black people, and he was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: "man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being".[5]

Even though Biko was never a member of the African National Congress (ANC), the ANC has included him in the pantheon of struggle heroes, going as far as using his image for campaign posters in South Africa's first non-racial elections in 1994.[6] Nelson Mandela said of Biko: "They had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid."[7]


  • Early life 1
  • Marriage and children 2
  • Activism 3
  • Death and aftermath 4
  • Influences and formation of ideology 5
  • Biko's relevance in the present 6
  • Tributes 7
  • References in the arts 8
    • Literature 8.1
    • Theatre, film and television 8.2
    • Music 8.3
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Biko was born to parents Mzingayi Mathew and Alice 'Mamcete' Biko in Ginsberg Township, in the present-day Eastern Cape province of South Africa.[8] His father was a government clerk, while his mother did domestic work in surrounding white homes.[9] The third of four children, Biko grew up with his older sister Bukelwa; his older brother Khaya; and his younger sister Nobandile.[10] In 1950, at the age of four, Biko suffered the loss of his father who was studying law.[11][12]

Biko was a

  • Young Black Leader Dies in Detention in South Africa, Raising Fears of New Unrest By John F. Burns, special to the New York Times
  • Thesis on the prospects of Bikoism in today's South Africa
  • The Steve Biko Foundation
  • The relevance of Black Consciousness today
  • Donald Woods talks in 1987 about his friendship with Steve Biko
  • New Introduction to I Write What I Like by Lewis Gordon
  • Black Consciousness: The dialectics of liberation

External links

  • 1972 Interview with Steve Biko
  • Biko, Steve (1987).  
  • Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa; ed. Millard Arnold; Random House, New York. 1978.
  • Biko, Stephen Bantu (1984). Arnold Millard, ed. The Testimony of Steve Biko. Panther Books, Granada Publ. 
  • New Introduction to I Write What I Like by Lewis Gordon
  • Black Consciousness: The dialectics of liberation in South Africa by Nigel Gibson
  • Goodwin, June; Schiff, Ben (13 November 1995). "Who Killed Steve Biko?: Exhuming Truth in South Africa". The Nation (New York: The Nation Company) 261 (16): 565–568.  
  • Mngxitama, Andile; Alexander, Amanda; Gibson, Nigel (2008). Biko Lives!: Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko. Palgrave Macmillan.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b Mothibeli, Tefo. "Mamphela Ramphele: Academic Giant and Ray of Hope", Financial Mail, Johannesburg, 7 July 2006.
  2. ^ Daley, Suzanne. "The Standards Bearer", NY Times, New York, 13 April 1997.
  3. ^ "Stephen Bantu Biko". South African history on-line. September 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Background: Steve Biko: martyr of the anti-apartheid movement". BBC News. 8 December 1997. Retrieved 16 April 2007. 
  5. ^ Biko, Steve (1986).  
  6. ^ See, for instance, Rian Malan's book My Traitor's Heart
  7. ^ "Row clouds Biko anniversary". BBC News. 12 September 2002. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Elizabeth J. Verwey; HSRC Press (1995). "New Dictionary of South African Biography, Volume 1".  
  9. ^ Leslie M. Alexander, Walter C. Rucker;  
  10. ^ Lindy Wilson;  
  11. ^  
  12. ^ "Biko, Stephen Bantu (1946–1977)". 24 June 2013. 
  13. ^ F. Abiola Irele, Biodun Jeyifo;  
  14. ^ Lindy Wilson;  
  15. ^ Peter Joyce (2007). "The Making of a Nation: South Africa's Road to Freedom". p. 142.  
  16. ^ "King William's Town's hero: Steve Biko 1946 – 1977". Buffalo City government. Retrieved 2 September 2007. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Appiah, Kwame Anthony; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1997). The Dictionary of Global Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 76–77.  
  18. ^ Black Consciousness in Dialogue: Steve Biko, Richard Turner and the "Durban Moment" in South Africa, 1970 – 1974, Ian McQueen, SOAS, 2009
  19. ^ "Martyr of Hope: A Personal Memoir" by Aelred Stubbs C.R., in Biko, Steve (2002).  
  20. ^ Pillay, Verashni (12 September 2007). "Keeping Steve Biko alive was really hard but we succeeded". News24. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  21. ^ Helen, Zille (9 September 2007). "Steve Biko's legacy lives on". 
  22. ^ Blandy, Fran (31 Dec 2007). "SA editor's escape from apartheid, 30 years on". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  23. ^ a b c Whitaker, Raymond (8 October 2003). "No prosecution for death of anti-apartheid activist Biko". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "South Africa Will Pay Biko Kin $78,000". Youngstown Vindicator. Associated Press. 28 July 1979. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "No prosecution of Biko's interrogators". The Calgary Herald. Reuter. 2 February 1978. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Biko, Steve; Mpumlwana, Thoko (1997).  
  27. ^ Stiebel, Lindy (2005). Still beating the drum: critical perspectives on Lewis Nkosi. Rodopi. p. 80. 
  28. ^ Kee, Alistair (2006). The rise and demise of black theology. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 
  29. ^ Heinrichs, Ann (2001). Mahatma Gandhi. Gareth Stevens. p. 12. 
  30. ^ Lens, Sidney (1963). Africa — awakening giant. Putnam. p. 180. 
  31. ^ Wiredu, Kwasi; William E. Abraham; Abiola Irele; Ifeanyi A. Menkiti (2003). Companion to African philosophy. Blackwell Publishing. 
  32. ^ "Why Steve Biko wouldn't vote". Andile Mngxitama. Pambazuka News. 
  33. ^ Mngxitama, Andile; Andile Mngxitama; Amanda Alexander; Nigel C. Gibson (2008). BIKO LIVES! Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko. Palgrave Macmillan. 
  34. ^ "A homemade politics' Rights, democracy and social movements in South Africa". Matt Birkinshaw. Abahlali baseMjondolo. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Martins, Alejandra (25 May 2005). "Black Brazilians learn from Biko". BBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  38. ^ Newsbeat. "The Steve Biko Academic Hospital". Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  39. ^ "The Life and Death of Steve Biko (1977) Part 1". Headlines Africa. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  40. ^ "The Biko Inquest". IMDb. 
  41. ^ "Peter Gabriel on 30 years of Womad – and mixing music with politics". The Guardian. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 


See also


Theatre, film and television

  • Benjamin Zephaniah wrote a poem titled "Biko The Greatness", included in Zephaniah's 2001 collection, Too Black, Too Strong.
  • "The Compound Arcane" is a poem written in 1975 by Jack Hirschman, subtitled Homage to Steve Biko, which is published in The Arcanes. This poem is notable for having been composed before Biko's death, yet already the poet was inspired enough by Biko's life to recognize him as a martyr.
  • "In Detention" by Chris van Wyk (b. 1957)


References in the arts

Apart from Donald Woods's book called Biko, his name has been honoured at several universities. Locally, the main Student Union buildings of the University of Cape Town are named in his honour and each year a commemorative Steve Biko lecture, open to all students, is delivered on the anniversary of his death. Internationally, the University of Manchester's student union, the Steve Biko Building, on the Oxford road campus, is named in his honour. Ruskin College, Oxford has a Biko House student accommodation. The bar at the University of Bradford was named after Biko until its closure in 2005. Numerous other venues in Students Unions around the United Kingdom also bear his name. The Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative has a house named after Steve Biko, themed to provide a safe, respectful space for people of colour. In London, streets in both Finsbury Park[35] and Hounslow[36] are named after him. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, there is a section of dormitories named "Biko House" located in the Oakes College Multicultural Theme Housing. The Steve Biko Institute was founded in Salvador, Brazil to support the education and pride of Black Brazilians.[37] The Pretoria Academic Hospital was renamed the Steve Biko Academic Hospital[38] in 2008. Durban University of Technology has acknowledged Steve Biko's contribution to South African Society by naming its largest campus after him. A bronze bust of Steve Biko was unveiled in Freedom Square on this campus as a tribute to him.

Biko is buried in the Ginsberg township cemetery, a place called the Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance in the Eastern Cape.


However, many present-day social movements, activists, and academics continue to stress the relevance of Biko's black consciousness. This includes a strong critique of voting by writer and political activist Andile Mngxitama who has said that if Biko were alive today, he would not be supporting any political party, would not even vote, but would be marching with the social movements against government.[32] [33] [34]

In the present post-Apartheid South Africa, Biko is now revered across the political spectrum despite obvious ideological differences. Many of these people see Biko's philosophy as irrelevant after 1994. However, in 2004, he was voted 13th in the SABC3's Great South Africans.

Biko's relevance in the present

Biko saw the struggle for African consciousness as having two stages, "Psychological liberation" and "Physical liberation". The nonviolent influence of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. upon Biko is then suspect, as Biko knew that for his struggle to give rise to physical liberation, it was necessary that it exist within the political realities of the apartheid government, and Biko's nonviolence may be seen more as a tactic than a personal conviction.[31]

Like Frantz Fanon, Biko originally studied medicine, and, like Fanon, Biko developed an intense concern for the development of black consciousness as a solution to the existential struggles that shape existence, both as a human and as an African (see Négritude). Biko can thus be seen as a follower of Fanon and Aimé Césaire, in contrast to more multi-racialist ANC leaders such as Nelson Mandela after his imprisonment at Robben Island, and Albert Luthuli who were first disciples of Gandhi.[27][28][29][30]

Influences and formation of ideology

A year after his death, some of his writings were collected and released under the title I Write What I Like.[26]

On 7 October 2003, the South African justice ministry announced that the five policemen accused of killing Biko would not be prosecuted because the time limit for prosecution had elapsed and because of insufficient evidence.[23]

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created following the end of minority rule and the apartheid system, reported that five former members of the South African security forces who had admitted to killing Biko were applying for amnesty. Their application was rejected in 1999.[23]

After a 15-day inquest in 1978, a magistrate judge found there was not enough evidence to charge the officers with murder because there were no eyewitnesses.[23][24] On 2 February 1978, based on the evidence given at the inquest, the attorney general of the Eastern Cape stated he would not prosecute.[25] On 28 July 1979, the attorney for Biko's family announced that the South African government would pay them $78,000 in compensation for Biko's death.[24]

Because of his high profile, news of Biko's death spread quickly, publicizing the repressive nature of the apartheid government. His funeral was attended by over 10,000 people, including numerous ambassadors and other diplomats from the United States and Western Europe. The Cry Freedom.[22] Speaking at a National Party conference following the news of Biko's death then–minister of police, Jimmy Kruger said, "I am not glad and I am not sorry about Mr. Biko. It leaves me cold (Dit laat my koud). I can say nothing to you ... Any person who dies ... I shall also be sorry if I die."

On 11 September 1977, police loaded him in the back of a Land Rover, naked and restrained in manacles, and began the 1100 km drive to Pretoria to take him to a prison with hospital facilities. He was nearly dead owing to the previous injuries.[20] He died shortly after arrival at the Pretoria prison, on 12 September. The police claimed his death was the result of an extended hunger strike, but an autopsy revealed multiple bruises and abrasions and that he ultimately succumbed to a brain hemorrhage from the massive injuries to the head,[17] which many saw as strong evidence that he had been brutally clubbed by his captors. Then Donald Woods, a journalist, editor and close friend of Biko's, along with Helen Zille, later leader of the Democratic Alliance political party, exposed the truth behind Biko's death.[21]

On 18 August 1977, Biko was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 and interrogated by officers of the Port Elizabeth security police including Harold Snyman and Gideon Nieuwoudt. This interrogation took place in the Police Room 619 of the Sanlam Building in Port Elizabeth. The interrogation lasted twenty-two hours and included torture and beatings resulting in a coma.[17] He suffered a major head injury while in police custody at the Walmer Police Station, in a suburb of Port Elizabeth, and was chained to a window grille for a day.

Steven Bantu Biko's grave

Death and aftermath

In spite of the repression of the Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976. In the aftermath of the uprising, which was met with a heavy hand by the security forces, the authorities began to target Biko further.

When Biko was banned, his movement within the country was restricted to the Eastern Cape, where he was born. After returning there, he formed a number of grassroots organizations based on the notion of self-reliance: Zanempilo, the Zimele Trust Fund (which helped support former political prisoners and their families), Njwaxa Leather-Works Project and the Ginsberg Education Fund.

In the early 1970s, Biko became a key figure in The Durban Moment.[18] In 1972, he was expelled from the University of Natal because of his political activities[17] and he became honorary president of the Black People's Convention. He was banned by the apartheid government in February 1973,[19] meaning that he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time nor to speak in public, was restricted to the King William's Town magisterial district, and could not write publicly or speak with the media.[17] It was also forbidden to quote anything he said, including speeches or simple conversations.

. World Student Christian Federation (BCM). Biko was also involved with the Black Consciousness Movement In 1968 Biko was elected its first president. SASO evolved into the influential [17]Biko was initially involved with the multiracial


Biko also had a daughter with Lorraine Tabane, named Motlatsi, born in May 1977.

He also had two children with Dr Mamphela Ramphele, a prominent activist within the BCM: a daughter, Lerato, born in 1974, who died of pneumonia when she was only two months old, and a son, Hlumelo, who was born in 1978, after Biko's death.[1]

Biko married Ntsiki Mashalaba in 1970.[16] They had two children together: Nkosinathi, born in 1971, and Samora.

Marriage and children

He studied to be a doctor at the University of Natal Medical School.

[8].Natal, Mariannhill institution in Roman Catholic After being expelled, he then attended and later graduated from St. Francis College, a [15]).Azanian People's Liberation Army protection for non-white South Africans, Biko was expelled from Lovedale for his political views, and his brother arrested for his alleged association with Poqo (now known as the freedom of association, with no apartheid era During the [14], where his older brother Khaya had previously been studying.Alice, Eastern Cape in boarding school He was sent to Lovedale High School in 1964, a prestigious [13]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.