Friday, November 18, 2005

In Memory of Ntate Stephen Biko

Stephen Biko managed to accomplish a great deal while operating as president of South African Students Organization (SASO) since 1968. Biko, operating under the pseudonym of "Frank Talk" spoke of the injustices of the White minority and importance of Black solidarity. Biko felt that solidarity among Black South Africans would instill pride and revive the cultural vitality that Apartheid and racism had almost completely diminished. The South African government soon detected the effectiveness of Biko's political activities and banned Stephen Biko from publishing or speaking publicly. Biko soon took his message underground and continued his campaign against the racist Apartheid system. He preached that Black South Africans needed to come together to "break the chains of oppression." Biko was often arrested and harassed by South African Police who were monitoring his activities.
Stephen Biko was seized and detained under the Terrorism Act on August 18, 1977. The Terrorism Act was implemented in 1967. This Act "allowed for indefinite detention without trial and established Bureau of State Security (BOSS), which was responsible for the internal security of South Africa." This act and various other laws managed to silence and incarcerate over 40,000 Blacks in South Africa since 1950. Biko was held in prison for twenty four days where he was interrogated, beaten, and starved. He was literally tortured to death. Prison doctors finally allowed him be transported to a hospital in Pretoria for medical treatment after he was found unconscious, bound and naked. Stephen Biko died on the way to hospital in Pretoria that was some 740 miles away. The official cause of death was due to a brain lesion caused by blunt force trauma to the head. The officers at the prison were never punished for this crime.

7 comments:

Sumeeta said...

Wow, the horror of apartheid should never be forgotten, and Stephen Biko's death certainly shows the terror that these officers were capable of. Thanks for bringing this injustice to light again.

I hope that you have a good weekend.

Stephen Bess said...

Sumeeta-
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Biko. I made a commitment to report on the work and life of Biko all this week so I had to wrap it up today. I know that I strayed from the poetry and fun stuff for a moment, but I just wanted to talk about Biko and what his life and work meant to me. I want you to have a good weekend as well.

tryphina said...

Stephen's crime was being negroid, dignified and intelligent!!! I believe this crime is still punishable by law all over the world today, including the United States of Amrica. I should mention though he informed his assailants; "If you gentleman intend or plan to assault me, you would have to tie both my hands and feet, for I will defend myself"
Killing him was a struggle for more than eight so called strong men even though both his hands and feet were tied!!! His soul is indestructable, I can feel it, I can see him, I can feel the strenghth of mind and soul!! I am so proud of you Stephen, yes you too Stephen for enlightening us about this great son of the soil!! both of

Stephen Bess said...

Tryphina-
Thanks for stopping by as always. I am glad that you enjoyed Biko this week. I am happy if I sparked interest in one person to learn more about Biko and others in the struggle for humanity. There are some that get nervous when they see the words "Black Consciousness." They try to relate it to White Supremacy or being a separatist. On the contrary, it is about empowerment and uplifting a people.

bohemian said...

Such martyr should always be remembered with diginity and honour. Stephen, this is really a great service you are doing by keep such legends alive. And keep reminding the Black community that people have died brutal deaths for their freedom. These are the things we tend to forget easily.

crallspace said...

That's a shame! Good for Biko!
I've heard the name, and the Peter Gabriel song comes to mind.

Thank you.

Stephen Bess said...

bohemian-
I agree. There are some who forget and others who don't know. I try to share what I know as often as I can so that others can give feedback. In turn, I learn something from the interactions. Thanks.

crallspace-
Thanks! I've never heard of Peter Gabriel, but I will do a search and check him out. Thanks for that info.

Rhiannon Giddens- "Julie"

Rhiannon Giddens' music is based on a collective number of slave narratives. This is an absolutely beautiful way to preserve the his...