Stephen Bantu Biko

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Stephen Biko

Stephen Bantu Biko was born in King William’s Town, Eastern Cape, South Africa, in 1946. As a child he showed interest and became active in the anti-apartheid movement. He was expelled from Lovedale High School because of his activism, he was said to have anti-establishment behavior. He would later enroll into St. Francis College in KwaZulu-Natal to further his education. After Biko graduated from St. Francis College he attended the University of Natal’s Medical School. While attending medical school, Biko became an active member of the National Union of South African Students, an organization that was dedicated to the restoration of black rights. The union was comprised of many white liberal students and Biko found that the union did not meet the needs of the black students. Biko resigned from the union in 1969 and started his own organization to serve black students, the South African Students’ Organization. Biko along with the members of the SASO provided black students and citizens with legal aid, medical care, and also helped develop a cottage industry.

The SASO became the leaders of the black consciousness movement in South Africa under the presidency of Stephen Biko. In 1972 Biko was expelled from St. Francis College; once again his activism for his people compromised his educational aspirations. In 1972 the Black Peoples Convention was co-founded by Stephen Biko and his colleagues; this organization became the new lead organization of the black consciousness movement. They were able to bring together and organize 70 different black conscious groups to help liberate black people.  In 1973 as president of the Black Peoples Convention, Biko’s activism was banned by the apartheid supporting government. His banishment included restricting him to his birth city only, he could not release any writings or speeches publicly, and he could not support the Black Peoples Convention. Despite facing governmental pressure and resistance, Biko created the Zimele Trust Fund to help aid the families of political prisoners.

Between 1975 and 1976 Biko was arrested four times by the Apartheid supporting government. During his detention in 1977 Biko received a massive head injury during an interrogation session by a corrupt law enforcement officer. Medical Doctors purposely over looked the seriousness of Biko’s injuries which caused him to remain semi-conscious until his death. September 12th, 1977 Stephen Biko was found dead and naked on a prison floor in the Pretoria Central Prison. The untreated injury he received to his head caused his death. No one was charged in the death of Biko even though five former guards confessed to killing Biko 20 years later. Biko became an international symbol of freedom and courage. All black conscious groups that were associated with Biko were banned, until the United Nations Security Council imposed arms against South Africa. Biko should be remembered throughout the times for his bravery and love for his people. Even as a child he could recognize the injustices around him; but he not only recognized injustice he oppose injustice. Mr. Stephen Bantu Biko, we stand on your shoulders.


J.A. Ward.

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