South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko might have cheered the movement of Occupiers now multiplying across the United States and abroad with the goal to obtain rights for the “99 percent”.
The Black Consciousness activist would have been 65 this week but his life was cut short at the age of 30 when he was murdered by apartheid-era police while in detention. Born on Dec. 18, 1946, he died on Sept. 12, 1977 in Pretoria.
By 1972, Biko had become one of the founders and later the first President of the Black Peoples Convention which retaliated against the Apartheid government using “black communism”, land restitution, and guerrilla warfare.
In spite of government repression, Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement played a significant role in organizing the protests which culminated in the Soweto Uprising of June 16, 1976.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created after the end of minority rule and the apartheid system, reported in 1997 that five former members of the South African security forces who had admitted to killing Biko were applying for amnesty. Their application was rejected.
Nkosinathi BIko, CEO of the Steve Biko foundation, said: “Black Consciousness taught people about a positive sense of self and then tried to link that positive sense of self to an emancipation program. We need programs that will rekindle the consciousness of the citizenry in this country. We need a reawakening of the national consciousness.”