BANTU STEVEN BIKO

 

"Black is Beautiful"

 

Epidode 2 

October 12, 2015

 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

Bantu Stephen Biko was born December 18, 1946 in Ginsberg Township, South Africa (what is the present day Eastern Cape province) to Mzingayi Mathew and Alice ‘Mamcete’ Biko. Biko was born the third of four children, to his father a government clerk, and his mother a domestic worker in surrounding white homes. However, his father would pass away in 1950, when Biko was only 4 years old. Biko was a highly intelligent man, even as a child, he was able to speak three (3) languages, his tribal language of Xhosa, fluent English, and relatively fluent in Afrikaans.

 

As there were no freedom of association protections for non-white Afrikaaners during apartheid; Stephen was expelled was his high school, Lovedale, for expressing his political views. After St. Francis College, Stephen went on to study medicine, in hopes of becoming a doctor at the University of Natal Medical School. In 1970, Biko married the former Ntisiki Mashalaba; they had two children together; but Biko also had two children with a prominent activist within the Black Conscious Movement, a Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, and another child with a woman named Lorraine Tabane.

 

In the mid to late 1960’s, a huge void was left in the leadership vacuum of black African politics, at the time the African National Congress (ANC) was fractured and trying its best to maintain viability; Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and another leader, Robert Sobukwe was banned, the void was ripe for young leadership, and a different style of thinking. Biko initially aligned and involved himself with the National Union of South African Students (NUSA), but because this was a multicultural organization, Biko began to believe that Black, Indian and Coloured African students needed their own organization to truly advance their own causes. As such, in response, the articulation of Black Consciousness sprang forward, with Biko being one of the main figures and ultimately leaders of this new movement.

 

After breaking apart from the NUSA, Biko helped to found the South African Student’s Organization (SASO), which was an all-black organization organized around the concepts of political self-reliance and the unification of university students in “black consciousness”. In 1968, Biko was elected as the first president of the SASO, which eventually evolved into the Black Consciousness Movement.

 

In 1972, Biko was expelled again for his political activities, this time from the University of Natal, where he was studying medicine, and he became the honorary president of the Black People’s Convention. By February 1973, the apartheid government banned Biko, meaning that he was not permitted to speak to more than one person at a time, or speak in public. Further, he was restricted to the King William’s Town district, and he was not permitted to write publicly or speak with the media. To the greater populace, it was further forbidden to quote anything he said, including any speeches or even simple conversations. After Biko’s banishment, the pressure the Security Police placed on his family and Biko was increased 10-fold. While according to the then-current law, the Security Police could conduct investigations and harassments on those in detention, almost at-will.

 

In all, during his time of banishment, Biko faced five (5) prosecutions on charges ranging from breaking his banning orders (by talking to more than one person at a time), to traffic offenses (not stopping completely at an intersection, and speeding), to “defeating the ends of justice” by allegedly persuading witnesses to change sworn statements. However, in each instance, Biko was found not guilty. In 1975, the restrictions against Biko were increased even more, with his being prevented from any activities amongst the black African community, and definitely prevented from engaging in any subversive activist activity. However, these restrictions couldn’t prevent Biko’s activism, with him and the Black Consciousness Movement playing a very significant role in organizing the protests that would culminate in the Soweto Uprising in June 1976.

 

On August 18, 1977, Stephen Biko was arrested at a roadblock while driving to Cape Town. While this violated his banning order, Biko and an associate, Peter Jones, were headed to Cape Town to meet with members of other liberation movement organizations, and charged under the Terrorism Act No. 83 of 1967. The Security Police’s initial interrogation of Stephen Biko lasted over twenty-two hours, and as was their normal practice, included beatings and systematic torture.[1] At one point, Biko suffered a major head injury and was in a coma. Despite obvious neurological damage, the doctors allowed Biko to remain in the cell, naked and chained to the grill; and they did not bother to record any of the external injuries he was suffering from.

 

On September 11th, the Security Police decided to take Biko to the Pretoria Central Prison, which was 700 miles away, rather than take him to a hospital as recommended. Biko was loaded naked onto the floor of a Land Rover, and unfortunately died shortly after his arrival in Pretoria on September 12th. Biko’s condition didn’t improve in the following days, and one of the first doctors to see him was called back in when he lapsed into semiconsciousness; the doctor then recommended that Biko be taken to a hospital.

 

Due to Stephen Biko’s very high profile nature across the country, news of his death spread very quickly, and also was instrumental in publicizing the inhumane and repressive nature of the Nationalist government. His funeral services were attended by well over 10,000 people, including ambassadors and diplomats from as far away as the United States and Western Europe. Donald Woods’ book “Biko” was later turned into a film called “Cry Freedom”. 

 

While Stephen Biko didn’t originate the phrase “Black is Beautiful” it has become forever associated with his name. It was not only his famous rallying cry to unite the masses, but also a slogan with which the Black Consciousness Movement was directed under. In his book, [which I encourage all to read to best understand his philosophy and thoughts], “I Write What I Like”, Biko explains the phrase to mean “…you are okay as your are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being…".

 

 

 

 

RESEARCH
 
Biko, Donald Woods, 1978. Paddington Press
 
"Steve Biko (Ohio Short Histories of Africa", Lindy Wilson, 2012. Ohio University Press.
 
"The Making of a Nation: South Africa's Road to Freedom", Peter Joyce, 2007. 
 
The Dictionary of Global Culture, Kwame A. Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 1997
 
"Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, Volume 2".
 
The Rise and Demise of Black Theology, Allstair Kee, 2006. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
 
RESOURCES
 
"Biko"
Donald Woods
ISBN - 0805018999
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"I Write What I Like"
Steve Biko
ISBN - 0226048977
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Steve Biko"
Lindy Wilson
ISBN - 9780821444412
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

09.05.1963

09.19.1963

01.24.1964

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05.07.1965

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10.09.1966

11.19.1966

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--.--.1968

02.04.1969

02.28.1969

03.10.1969

06.17.2969

09.10.1969

09.27.1969

01.21.1971

10.27.1971

03.19.1976

08.05.1976

09.02.1976

09.25.1976

10.01.1976

10.14.1976

11.18.1976

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12.14.1976

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01.20.1977

02.15.1977

02.15.1977

02.22.1977

03.26.1977

06.05.1977

07.07.1977

08.01.1977

08.03.1977

08.05.1977

08.28.1977

09.12.1977

L. NGUDLE

B. MERHOPE

J. TYITYA

S SALOOJIE

N. GAGA

P. HOYE

J. HAMAKWAYO

H. SHONYEKA

L. LEONG PIN

A. AH YAN

A. MADIBA

J. TUBAKWE

UNNAMED PERSON

N. KGOATHE

S. MODIPANE

J. LENKOE

C. MAYEKISO

J. MONAKGOTLA

IMAM A. HARON

M. CUTHSELA

A. TIMOL

J. MDLULI

M. MOHAPI 

L. MAZWEMBE

D. MBATHA

E. MZOLO

W. TSHWANE

E. MAMASILA

T. MOSALA

W. TSHAZIBANE

G. BOTHA

DR. N. NTSHUNTSHA

L. NDZAGA

E. MALEL

M. MABELANE

T. JOYI

S. MALINGA

R. KHOZA

J. MASHABANE

P. MABIJA

E. LOZA

DR. H. HAFFEJEE

B. EMZIZI

F. MOGATUSI

STEVEN BIKO

SUICIDE BY HANGING

UNDISCLOSED

SUICIDE BY HANGING

FELL SEVEN FLOORS DURING INTERROG

NATURAL CAUSES

NATURAL CAUSES

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE BY HANGING

DEATH NOT DISCLOSED UNTIL 01.28.1969

SLIPPED IN SHOWER

SLIPPED IN SHOWER

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE

THROMBOSIS [BLOOD CLOTTING]

FELL DOWN STAIRS

NATURAL CAUSES

JUMPED FROM 10TH FLOOR WINOW

FELL AGAINST CHAIR DURING SCUFFLE

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE BY HANGING

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

FELL DOWN STAIRWELL

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NATURAL CAUSES

SUICIDE BY HANGING

SUICIDE

FELL SIX (6) FLOORS DURING INTERROG

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

NO DETAILS GIVEN

SUFFOCATED IN EPILEPTIC FIT

INJURED IN SCUFFLE

** IN MEMORAM **
Date, Name, Reported Cause of Death