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Remembering Steve Biko on his birthday

Student leader and revolutionary Steve Biko

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Photo: ThisIsAfrica

Over the weekend, the world celebrated the birthday of a truly inspirational figure. 

Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid South African student leader who founded the Black Consciousness Movement, which later mobilized many South African students to reject white supremacy and to resist apartheid. The Black Consciousness movement rallied many of the students who were later killed in the Soweto Uprising. Due to his influence, Biko was assassinated in police custody on September 12, 1977. 

Below are some quotes from Biko to remember his impact and to honor his life and legacy. 

"Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being."

"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

"If one is free at heart, no man-made chains can bind one to servitude, but if one's mind is so manipulated and controlled by the oppressor, then there will be nothing the oppressed can do to scare his powerful masters."

“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. Its essence is the realization by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression – the blackness of their skin – and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.“

“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. The first step, therefore, is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.“

"It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die."

"Sure there are a few good whites just as much as there are a few bad Blacks. However what we are concerned here with is group attitudes and group politics. The exception does not make a lie or the rule - it merely substantiates it."

"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 apologize 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."

“Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society, liberals waste a lot of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal.”

"We have a problem with White Racism and it rests squarely on the laps of White society. White liberals must leave Blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society – White racism. No matter what a White man does, the color of his skin is his passport to privilege and will always put him miles ahead of the Black man."

"We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man's mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds."

What quote are you most inspired by? Let us know in the comments below.



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Blavity Staff Writer