Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Steve Biko (d. 12 September 1977)

By way of a small tribute to Steve Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), here is a brief descriptive introduction to and characterization of Biko as a thoughtful and politically aware young medical student at Wentworth (the Natal University nonwhite medical school), where he was elected to the Students’ Representative Council and soon participated in NUSAS (the multiracial National Union of South African Students): 

“Undogmatic but highly disciplined in his thinking, possessed with a rare insight into human and political situations, Biko increasingly began to question the value of what he saw as the artificial integration of student politics. As in South African politics generally, Africans were hanging back, resentful but reticent, hiding behind white spokesmen who had shouldered the job of defining black grievances and goals. For liberal whites, verbal protest and symbolic racial mixing were seen as the outer limit of action. Apartheid was defined as the enemy, and nonracialism prescribed as the antidote. Repeated over and over in words and symbols, this liberal approach, and in fact the entire liberal analysis, had to Biko’s way of thinking become not an inspiration to constructive action but a sterile dogma disguising an unconscious attachment to the status quo.”— Gail M. Gerhart, Black Power in South Africa: The Evolution of an Ideology (University of California Press, 1978): 260. Gerhart had the privilege of interviewing Biko in 1972.   

Related Bibliography: South African Liberation Struggles: Toward (revolutionary?) Democratic Self-Determination.


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