TODAY marks 41 years since the sad passing of Steve Bantu Biko. He was beaten to a point of brain damage, leading to his death in a cell, naked and alone in shackles.
But despite his gruesome death, Biko shines through the history books as the founding father of Black Consciousness.
Black Consciousness stood against black self-hate, the eagerness to please white people, the inferiority of blacks in the presence of Caucasians and the inherent belief that everything white is right and that black is wrong. Among many other things.
In the past few years, there’s been a growing sense of pro-blackness among black people all over the world over.
Whether it’s through the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the EFF bringing back the conversation around land in Mzansi, South Africans’ growing appreciation for fellow Africans on the continent and in the diaspora or even blacks being conscious of the importance of supporting each other. These goings-on are inspired directly or indirectly, by the words Biko spoke nearly 50 years ago, .
Black people are being fortified by his words. Words he uttered because he liked it, but also because it was and still is important that black people hear them. It’s really mind-bending that he was just 29 when he died.
Here are some of Biko’s finest quotes:
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.”
“I would like to remind the black ministry, and indeed all black people, that God is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people’s problems on earth.”
“What Black Consciousness seeks to do is to produce real black people who do not regard themselves as appendages to white society. We do not need to apologise for this because it is true that the white systems have produced through the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people.”
“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.”
“Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time.”
“It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality.”
“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
“You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.”
“People must not give in to hardships of life. People must develop hope.”
“I write what I like.”