Last week, on 12 September 2012, we commemorated the 35th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko. Biko, the leader of the SA Students' Organisation, Saso, pioneer of the Black Consciousness philosophy and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in 1969, died in police custody at the age of 30.
His life and writings influenced and empowered many people, and his slogan, "Black is beautiful", became the inspiration for many. Biko worked throughout his life to empower black people and he was one of South Africa's most influential and prominent anti-apartheid activists. Biko saw the struggle to restore African consciousness as having two stages, psychological liberation and physical liberation. His philosophy that political freedom could only be achieved if blacks stopped feeling inferior to whites is considered by many to be the turning point in the demise of apartheid.
Former President Nelson Mandela said of Steve Biko that:
The intervention on the level of consciousness - and consciousness was a key concept in his political approach and vocabulary - was at the essence of Biko's strategic brilliance and understanding.
Long live the memory of Steve Biko! [Applause.]