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Biko, Steve


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Bantu Stephen Biko (more commonly, Steve Biko) is the intellectual and political figure most closely identified with the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) in South Africa. Emerging to fill the void created by the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) by the apartheid government in the 1960s, black consciousness involved both a rejection of white liberal paternalism and a rehabilitation or revaluation of blackness, guided by the recognition, in the most commonly quoted phrase of Biko's, that “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Black consciousness had roots in student politics and transitioned into community development work, most notably through Black Community Programmes (BCP), with Biko founding and managing the Eastern Cape branch of BCP for several years after being banned and banished to his home in King William's Town as a result of political activity. Biko's own life and work were cut short by his death in police detention in 1977, but in death he became a martyr for the struggle against apartheid within South Africa and an international symbol of the injustice and brutality of the apartheid regime. Black consciousness has had profound and lasting effects on South African politics and culture. Biko was born on December 18, 1946, the third child of Mzingaye and Alice Nokuzola “Mamcethe” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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