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Steve Bantu Biko
Posted: Monday, August 13, 2001

In the 1950s and 1960s in South Africa, the oppressiveness of apartheid enveloped many blacks who formed a silent majority. Apartheid means strict segregation of people based on race.

One person whose life was dedicated to the fight against apartheid was Steve Bantu Biko. When Steve was born on 18 Dec. 1946, his parents appropriately chose the name "Bantu" which means people.

Steve started fighting for people's rights while studying medicine in college. As a delegate for an organization called the National Union of South African Students, Steve participated in an annual conference. During the conference in July 1967 at Rhodes University, Steve became insulted when he and other black delegates were given accommodations further away at a church hall. Yet, white student delegates were placed on-site at the university residences.

Steve began to question the point of liberal groups comprised primarily of white persons. He advocated and formed a group two years later whose membership could only be black and named it the South African Student's Organisation (SASO). The goal was to remove the inferiority complex many blacks had and replace it with a positive social image.

This became known as the Black Consciousness Movement. Steve believed that blacks had to be in leadership positions and that only blacks could push the liberation movement. If white people did this for blacks, then this would reinforce the idea that blacks were not capable of taking control and responsibility for themselves. Steve saw the need to free people from both the physical and mental bonds of oppression.

To help create positive self-awareness in blacks, Steve started night-class schools encouraging education and the development of more skills. He advocated diversity and that each of us has different skills to contribute.

South African activist Donald Woods dies
Sunday, August 19, 2001
Mr Woods had drawn world attention to the case of Steve Biko, the black consciousness leader who was killed by South African security forces while in detention.

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