Mar
14

Steve Biko

Ohio University Press has a series of "Short Histories of Africa". I had one book from this series previously, on Thomas Sankara, and recently decided to pick up most of the collection for potential use as reading materials for classes. This post covers "Steve Biko" by Lindy Wilson, published in 2011. I found this book useful as there are relatively fewer materials on Steven Biko, compared to others in the series (e.g., Fanon). The author also adds unique perspectives having done some interviews with people who knew Biko. A few notes:

"Biko was appalled at what he saw all around him in South Africa at the time: "the black man has become a shell, a shadow of man … bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity," he said. He challenged black people not to be a part of their own oppression, believing that "the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed'. He defined Black Consciousness as 'an inward-looking process' to 'infuse people with pride and dignity'. 'We have set out on a quest for a true humanity,' he said." (p. 14)

"No Saso president, for example, was in office for more than a year, a precedent set by Biko. This capacity to stand back, to put others forward, to initiate new ideas, get something going and make it practical, meant that although Biko was present, he managed not to be dominant." (p. 49)

"Biko's work was to awaken the people: first, from their own psychological oppression through reorganizing their inferiority complex and restoring their self-worth, dignity, pride and identity; secondly, from a mental and physical oppression of living in a white racist society." (p. 54)

"His message was simple and clear: Do not be a part of your oppression." (p. 148)

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