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18th December 2021 by

75th anniversary of the birth of Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist

Steve Biko (1946-1977) was ideologically an African nationalist and social who was at the forefront of a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. 

Studying medicine at the University of Natal, he became increasingly frustrated that National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) and other anti-apartheid groups were dominated by white liberals, rather than by the blacks who were most affected by apartheid. 

Biko believed that black people needed to rid themselves of any sense of racial inferiority, an idea he expressed by popularizing the slogan ‘black is beautiful’. In 1972, he was involved in founding the Black People’s Convention BPC) to promote Black Consciousness ideas among the wider population.

The-then government saw Biko as a subversive threat placing him under a banning order in 1973, which severely restricted his activities. Nevertheless, he remained politically active and helped to organise a healthcare centre and a crèche in the Ginsberg area. During the ban he received repeated anonymous threats, being detained by state security services on several occasions. Following his arrest in August 1977, Biko was beaten to death by state security officers. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral.

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