STEVE BIKO (1946 - 1977)
The murder of anti-apartheid activist, Bantu Stephen Biko, on 12 September 1977, marked a turning point in the political history of South Africa. Biko who led the Black Consciousness Movement in the late 1960’s rose to become the most vociferous voice of resistance in the country, following the banning of the African National Congress and the Pan African Congress, which resulted in a lull in political activity amongst blacks. By the time of Biko’s death in 1977, black consciousness had become “a way of life”. It was integrally woven into the political, social and cultural institutions, injecting a dose of fresh energy into the struggle for freedom
Bantu Stephen Biko was born in Tilden on the 18th December 1946, the third child of the late Mathew Mzingaye and Alice Nokuzola "Mamcethe" Biko. He attended primary school in King William's Town and secondary school at Marianhill, a missionary school situated in a town of the same name in KwaZulu Natal.
Steve went on to register for a degree in medicine at the Black Section of the Medical School of the University of Natal in 1966. Very early in his academic program, Biko showed an expansive thirst for knowledge that far exceeded the realm of the medical profession, and resulted in him being one of the most prominent student leaders. In 1968, Biko and his colleagues founded the South African Students' Organization (SASO). He was elected the first President of the organization at its inaugural congress held at Turfloop in 1969. This organization was born out of the frustrations black students encountered within the liberal and multiracial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS).
In the eyes of Biko and his colleagues, NUSAS showed signs of an organization unwilling to adopt radical policy positions and comfortable with playing safe politics. The questions that triggered the formation of SASO became known as the 'best able debate': Are white liberals best able to define the texture and tempo of resistance? SASO was founded, therefore, as a call to black students to refrain from being spectators in a game in which they should be participants.