Saturday marked the 38th anniversary of the death of activist and struggle icon, Bantu Biko. Biko’s corpse was discovered in a prison cell in Pretoria on 12 September 1977. He sustained brain damage after being beaten and transported for over 1100km (700mi) in a police van from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria.
Bantu Stephen Biko was born on December 18, 1946 in what is now the Eastern Cape province. Biko was recognized nationally as a hero in the struggle and the great mind behind the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. He became president of the South African Students’ Organization in 1969.
Speaking at a Biko Day commemoration at the University of Pretoria in on Friday, struggle veteran and author, Professor Thomas Ranuga told the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that the Black Consciousness leader’s beliefs are still relevant today. Professor Ranuga, who attended the same school as Biko in the then Natal province says his legacy should be a guiding tool to the youth of South Africa.
UNISA Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya, describes Biko as a visionary leader. “It was and is common cause that Steve Biko was a visionary, a man of his time, yet ahead of time, whose persona and writing captures and continue to capture hearts and minds, not only because of their brilliance per se but because they touched the core deep within. Resonating in the spirit and stirring the imagination to envision a future that will ensure dignity and the fullness of being.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF) Obenewa Amponsah says the foundation is ensuring that the Biko legacy lives on. “We are here to learn from the past in order to better understand the present and to actively shape our future. This notion of examining, questioning and seeking is really underlining promise behind the work that we are doing at SBF.”
Founded in 1998 by his son, Nkosinathi Biko, the vision at SBF is to be the premier and independent holdover of the values that Steve Biko lived and died for, restoring dignity and humanity.