Monday, November 14, 2005

Stephen Bantu Biko (1946-1977)

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Speech in Cape Town, 1971

I first attempted to read the work of Stephen Biko, Founder and martyr of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa, when I was in college in 1991. This is when I picked up his book, I Write What I Like. It was a very difficult read for me because my vocabulary and comprehension talents were not fully developed at that point. I struggled a great deal. I put the book back on my father’s bookshelf and picked up the movie, Cry Freedom starring Denzel Washington (In retrospect, this movie didn’t even come close to representing Biko’s ideologies and philosophies on Black Consciousness…although Denzel did an excellent job acting). I revisited the same work in 1995 and I found out that I actually learned something in college. As a matter of fact, I thought that it was a different book because I was able to grasp the language and meaning of what he said so well. This made me very happy.
I will be looking at the Stephen Biko this week and commenting on his philosophy and how it applies to our lives in 2005-2006. Are Black people in this country or the diaspora still living in an oppressed state? These are very heavy questions and I will be attempting to work through them the best that I can. Perhaps you can help me.
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