Black Consciousness, epitomised by Stephen Bantu Biko and the BCM (Black Consciousness Movement), is fast gaining traction in the socio-political landscape in South Africa. This is no doubt precipitated by the #RhodesMustFall Movement of UCT earlier in the year, who, wittingly or unwittingly, imbued a wave of Black Conscious Movements in the country, seeking ‘Transformation’ in higher learning institutions.
A lot of literature has been penned down on Biko’s life as a student activist and later on as the father of the Black Consciousness Movement, such that sole focus on the man’s life would be a regurgitation of those works. Biko’s important contributions to the struggle ought to be linked with the country’s current burning issue, transformation.
Although being 21 years into the new dispensation, there’s a prevailing feeling, and in fact a prevailing reality that the ethos championed by Steve Biko and the BCM under his leadership have been eschewed in favour of what Biko himself termed “a white man’s integration”, or the politically correct ‘rainbow nation’. The results of which are largely untransformed institutions from educational to sporting.
Because the spirit of Biko amongst other BC liberation heroes & ‘heroines’ continue to guide the greater BCM over this process, it is perhaps important to stress his contribution to the Transformation question. He stresses, “Blacks no longer seek to reform the system because so doing implies acceptance of the major points around which the system revolves. Blacks are out to completely transform the system and to make of it what they wish.” This assertion is important. Here Biko warns us that reactionary measures such as the mere employment of Blacks in predominantly white institutions does not equate to transformation. He warns us specifically of the manner in which the Transformation question is being dealt with by the State currently.
This is fast causing the BCM to shun the term transformation in favour of the more radical ‘decolonization’. We are indeed fast reaching a point where we, in unison, will emphatically proclaim; “We Blacks no longer seek to transform the system, because so doing would be accepting the major points around which the system revolves. We seek to decolonize the system, and make of it what we wish.”
To conclude, 38 years after Biko’s death at the hands of the state, we’re sadly still reminded that it is dangerous for darkie to think. And the powers that be continue to remind all and sundry of this fact by dishing out charges and suspensions to students who are leading the decolonization question from academic activities. In true defiance, however, students have continued undeterred. A fact which reminds us of the hope-giving proclamation that often finds voice in BC circles, ‘Biko Lives!’
By Montsho Tiro