Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mourning Mandela But Remembering Biko

Current Affairs ---

Steve Biko (1946 - 1977)
While the rest of the world mourned the death of Mr. Nelson Mandela, and, turned off by a lot of the insincere fluff coming from many leaders and politicians and the media who in the past were far from embracing of him when he was a full-fledged activist, I decided to spend the past several days reading a PDF version of "I Write What I Like", watching "Cry Freedom" (starring Denzel Washington who gave a stirring performance in that movie), and listening to a particular song that British Rock musician, Peter Gabriel wrote and sang in the late 70s (Click here for The song).  In effect, I chose to reflect on another South African, Steve Biko - through a film, a song, and through his own written words.   In my own way I was saying to the rest of the world, you can have your loved-by-all-and-sundry, Nobel Prize-winning co-opted Freedom Fighter whom, following his release, you no longer (like in the 50's and 60's) saw as posing a threat to your Establishment or the status quo.  But give me Biko - Steve Biko.

Now please do not be angry at me.  I mean no slight of Mr. Mandela; he was a remarkable man.  He, more than any other, prevented South Africa from being plunged into civil war after Chris Hani was killed in 1993.  But you must understand that I was in my late teens when Biko was at the height of his activism in Apartheid South Africa.  I knew nothing much about Mr. Mandela at the time except that he was imprisoned for life for conspiracy to overthrow the South African Government and except that there were worldwide cries for his release.  But it was with Steve Biko's views that I was most familiar and by which I was most influenced.  When he was murdered by the South African Police in September 1977, I was 18 years old.  And after all these years, I guess I still have not gotten over his death.  To this day, I cannot think of Mr. Mandela without thinking about Steve Biko.  Mr. Mandela was great, but he stood on the shoulders of the equally great, Steve Biko.  Rest in peace, Steve Biko; rest in peace, Mr. Mandela.  May we never lose that revolutionary spirit that you both exhibited in your prime and with which the elite would rather not identify.