Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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Stephen Bantu Biko (December 18, 1946 - September 12 1977) was a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s. Because he was dissatisfied with the National Union of South African Students, he helped found the South African Students' Organisation in 1968 and elected its first president; in 1972 he became honorary president of the Black People's Convention. He was banned during the height of apartheid in March 1973, meaning that he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time and so could not make speeches in public. It was also forbidden to quote anything he said, including speeches or simple conversations, or to otherwise mention him.
On September 6, 1977 he was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967. He suffered a major head injury around September 6th while in police custody and was chained to a window grill for a full day. On September 11, police loaded him into the back of a car and began the 740-mile drive to another prison. He died en route. Police claimed his death was the result of an extended hunger strike.
On October 7, 2003, South African Justice Ministry officials announced that the five policemen who were accused of killing Biko would not be prosecuted because of insufficient evidence. They said a murder charge could not be supported partly because there were no witnesses to the killing. Charges of culpable homicide and assault were also considered, but because the killing occurred in 1977, the time frame for prosecution had expired. 
- "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
("White Racism and Black Consciousness", in I Write What I Like)
- "The logic behind white domination is to prepare the black man for the subservient role in this country. Not so long ago this used to be freely said in parliament, even about the educational system of the black people. It is still said even today, although in a much more sophisticated language. To a large extent the evil-doers have succeeded in producing at the output end of their machine a kind of black man who is man only in form. This is the extent to which the process of dehumanization has advanced.”
("We Blacks", ibid.)
- "The system concedes nothing without demand, for it forumalates its very method of operation on the basis that the ignorant will learn to know, the child will grow into an adult and therefore demands will begin to be made. It gears itself to resist demands in whatever way it sees fit."
("The Quest for a True Humanity", ibid.)
- "In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift - a more human face"
- "It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die."
- "Even today, we are still accused of racism. This is a mistake. We know that all interracial groups in South Africa are relationships in which whites are superior, blacks inferior. So as a prelude whites must be made to realize that they are only human, not superior. Same with blacks. They must be made to realize that they are also human, not inferior."
References in the arts
- Malcolm Clarke made the documentary The life and death of Steve Biko in 1978
- Steel Pulse released the song "Biko's kindred lament" on their 1979 album "Tribute to the martyrs".
- Tom Paxton released the song "The Death of Stephen Biko" on his 1978 album "Heroes"
- In 1980 Peter Gabriel released "Biko", a song protesting against Biko's death.
- In 1987 Richard Attenborough directed the movie Cry Freedom, a biographical drama about Biko. Gabriel's song was included in the film's soundtrack.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation there is a starship named USS Biko.
- On the A Tribe Called Quest album Midnight Marauders is the song "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)."
- Sweet Honey In the Rock 's 1981 album "Good News" contains a tracks titled "Biko" and "Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto",
- Billy Bragg later covered Sweet Honey In the Rock 's song "Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto" comparing Biko's death to that of Victor Jara.
- Beenie Man's 1998 album Many Moods of Moses contains a track named after Biko.
- Dead Prez reference Biko in a track entitled 'I'm an African' on their 2000 album Let's get free .
- Biko by Donald Woods
- I Write What I Like by Steve Biko
- Address by Nelson Mandela on the 20th anniversary of Biko's death
- Steven Biko memorial page
- About.com's Biko biography
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