Remembering Biko

BEYOND POLITICS: From left, Samora Biko, Nontsikelelo Biko and Khanyisa Tshali lay wreaths on Steve Biko’s gravestone in Ginsberg, King William’s Town. It has been 42 years since the anti-aprthied activist died in police detention. Picture: AMANDA NANO

A STRONG sense of self, pride and burning national issues were on display as people descended upon Ginsberg, in King William’s Town to commemorate and celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Bantu Stephen Biko’s death.

Biko, a key figure in the fight against apartheid and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, died in police custody on September 12, 1977.

The day started on a solemn note as the Biko family lay wreaths at the gravesite at the Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance in King William’s Town.

Bantu Stephen Biko’s eldest son, Nkosinathi, speaks at the wreath laying ceremony. Picture: AMANDA NANO

Biko’s eldest son, Nkosinathi, said it was a sad moment but also one of reflection of where SA is now as a country.

“The pain is there in how he left us, but it’s important to work on what has been left behind.

“Just a few moments will remind you about a black consciousness to the gender-based violence and xenophobia we are experiencing.

“The soul needs to be replenished and that goes beyond politics and but finds expression in art and religion,” Nkosinathi said.

Speaking on accountability regarding his father’s death, Nkosinathi said it is pretty easy to figure out who did it, and the family will not rest until justice is served.

“There is a difference between law and justice. The law is yet to take shape and then there can be justice,” he said.

Pastor Bathandwa Kwatsha said different giants are being fought between Biko’s time and now.

“We need to become the stones to rebuild a new SA. We do not want to come to a stage where the next generation does not know what we have done, but it looks like the younger generations do not appreciate the fight for liberation,” Kwatsha said.

Speaking on behalf of the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture (Dsrac), MEC Fezeka Nkomonye-Bayeni said:

“Steve Biko’s philosophy and ideas are still relevant as SA is confronted with socio-economic challenges that are forcing us to reflect on the late icon’s ethos of being black and African when faced with civil strife.”

Activities of the day included a youth and community dialogue, titled “Becoming the Citizenry that Steve Biko Envisioned”.

Local schools from in and around King William’s Town were also in attendance.

Rekgotsofetse Chikane and Dr Andile M-Afrika discuss “Becoming the Citizenry that Steve Biko Envisioned”. Picture: AMANDA NANO

The dialogue was presented by authors, Rekgotsofetse Chikane and Dr Andile M-Afrika.

Chikane said he is challenging the notion of the “rainbow nation” as an idea that was sold as what the country needed at the time.

“We are sitting and waiting for a new dawn to kick-start the economy. It’s no longer enough to liberate the mind while not providing economic liberation.

“No one will save you but yourselves, and I think Biko would like for all freedoms to be realised,” Chikane said.

Chikane was involved in the #FeesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town and was arrested as part of for taking part in the protest.

The youth dialogue. Picture: AMANDA NANO

A visiting student from Shoreline Community College in the US, Franklin Kennedy, described the event as “amazing but sad”.

“We have only a shell of this history provided to us in the US and I am going to take a lot of this home.

“People need to understand who Biko was and be able to know more about what he stood for,” Kennedy said.

Kuyasa Senior Secondary School grade 11 pupil Siphamandla Qwabaza said it hurts to have to resort to fighting for resources.

“We have to fight radically to get the education that others get on a silver platter because we lack the resources.

“We are fighting for the equal systems that our leaders fought for,” Qwabaza said.

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