Steven Biko 35 Years Later: Black Man, You’re On Your Own

Thirty-five years ago, anti-apartheid activist and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, Steven Biko was killed in custody.

Much of what he said is almost being consigned to history with a lot of black young people being able to quote Winston Churchill or John F Kennedy but not one of the most of the important figures in our history as a people.

Biko it was who demonstrated and pushed the ideology that blacks were not inferior to whites:

Being black is not a matter of pigmentation but a reflection of a mental attitude.

Biko would weep today seeing the mental attitude of some of the blacks he fought for. Sure, apartheid in its more disgusting and raw form has been consigned to history. It still exists in the mind of the disenfranchised masses who still feel that they are not part of the bigger argument. His words are ominous today especially with the widespread unrest in the mining industry in South Africa:

The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves.

In fighting for identity one of his quotes ring true today:

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

Without that mind you cannot achieve much. That is because the black man to this day has his identity still hidden somewhere where he has no access to it. He is even encouraged to refuse and reject his identity in favour of a global village approach, an ideal in which none of the others are expected to reject identity. Without this identity for the black man there can be no progress:

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.

Without that personality which we are allowed to define on our own and not foisted upon then we are able to be contributors to the world narrative. Devoid of that knowledge of self the black man will allow himself to continue to be misused. Just this last year alone, we have seen the black man celebrate his own recolonisation under the guise of international law.

Biko’s words still ring true today:

Black man, you are on your own.

It’s more than just writing it on your wall on Facebook or putting his Facebook picture up.