Remembering Biko’s black consciousness dream
The death of Steve Bantu Biko, South Africa’s Black Consciousness leader sparked an idea that is manifesting itself to end inequalities in southern Africa’s leading economy.</p>
Biko became not just a hero of South Africa’s liberation struggle, but a universal symbol of resistance to oppression, with his memory immortalised in films, books and songs, including Peter Gabriel’s haunting 1980 song in which he croons: “You can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire.”
Biko died on September 12, 1977, in police detention at age 31.
With the advent of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) on South Africa’s political landscape, it seems Julius Malema’s goal is to sow what Biko wanted for black people.
The EFF is pursuing a struggle that gives black South Africans the right to own land and have a share in the mines, hence controlling the means of production. A struggle that has no casualties is no struggle. The revolution is however incomplete since some leaders who fought the apartheid regime have embraced their past tormentors and have made concessions with them, something that runs parallel to the doctrine of black economic emancipation.
This is what EFF is fighting for. In an interview last year, Malema said his soldiers are “agitating for a revolution that would liberate all people of the world.”
In the book “I Write What I Like”, a collection of his writings and speeches, Biko says: “Blacks are tired of watching from the touchlines a game they should participate while people from Coca-Cola and hamburger backgrounds are enjoying the game.”
The doctrine by Malema, influenced by Biko’s thought, is to create a conscious policy to liberate the young South Africans and break down bourgeois morality.
The phenomenon that the EFF is preaching is to reinforce and reincarnate the spirit of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) by making people realise that the revolution that Malema is executing should be sustained and ushered into power by the support of the masses. “This revolution cannot be sustained in power by force,” remarked Malema.
South Africa is the leading unequal society in the world and some in government are complacent that perhaps the EFF cannot guarantee the people an economic revolution, in which most poor South Africans are determined to have a share in the economy.
As put by Aelred Stubbs: “Tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lonely fruits of wealth, security and prestige it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lies and to accept it as normal that it alone is entitled to privilege.”
It is imperative for black Africans to accept that no race, however benevolent, can ever hand power to the vanquished on a platter. This is why there have been revolutions that toppled the dominance of colonialism, imperialism and neo-colonialism.
The situation of blacks the world over and other developing nations is not a mistake on the part of colonialism, but a deliberate act, and that no amount of moral lecturing can persuade the neo-colonialists to correct the situation.
Biko was never ashamed to speak his thoughts, did not shrink from danger even when his conscience pointed the path that most people thought dangerous, a path of “black consciousness and emancipation”. Biko’s bravery and courage are two concepts that have been prophetic to the cause of African liberation, and upheld by Malema that “black man, you are your own”.
The 1.1 million people that voted Malema’s EFF all share the view that in South Africa, “Malema’s revolution has been a source of inspiration to all freedom loving people.” Denying people access to their fundamentals is cruelty. The cruelest people are the ones who are indifferent to social injustice, discrimination, inequality, the exploitation of other human beings, illness, hunger, ignorance and the suffering of other human beings.
In an April interview, Malema said: “People who don’t react when they see a child with no shoes, a beggar or millions of people going hungry are cruel. I really think that people who have spent all their lives struggling against injustice and oppression, serving others, fighting for others and practicing and preaching solidarity, cannot possibly be cruel.”
The philosophy bears testimony when one considers the solidarity preached by Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe.
Even after 20 years of democracy in South Africa, “apartheid” still exists. Apartheid is the most traumatising and inconceivable reality that is haunting South Africans even today, unless they realise the call of black Consciousness by Steve Bantu Biko.