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THE QUEST FOR A TRUE HUMANITY. An exhibition commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Bantu Stephen Biko. PDF | There are many approaches that need to inform education systems around This article focuses on the ideas of Stephen Biko, a South African political. PDF | KOPANO RATELE explores the ambiguities in the identities of post- apartheid manhood. reading of Steve Biko's article, We Blacks.


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I n October , Steve Biko was employed by the black division of scientist Gail M. Gerhart interviewed Biko in those offices on October Bibliographic details for the Source Text Biko, Steve, () Stubbs, Aelred. (fl. ) (ed.) I Write What I Like: Steve Biko. A selection of his. quest for a true humanity by Steve Biko. It is perhaps fitting to start by examining why it is necessary for us to think collectively about a problem we never created.

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The fact that we have differences of approach should not cloud the issue. We have a responsibility not only to ourselves but also to the society from which we spring. No one else will ever take the challenge up until we, of our own accord, accept the inevitable fact that ultimately the leadership of the non-white peoples in this country rests with us. It gives the historical background and an authoritative rationale for the founding of SASO.

Steve was aware of the strength of opposition to a segregated body, particularly outside South Africa which is where it was hoped that some of the money for the support of SASO would come from. It was necessary to present the positive purpose in the formation of SASO which would make it clear that the "withdrawal" was only in order to re-group and be more effective in striving towards the common ultimate aim of both NUSAS and SASOa non-racial, egalitarian society. The historical background section displays Steve's strong sense of history and particularly of the continuity of African resistance to the various forms of white oppression.

It could never be said of him that he turned to founding a rival organisation because of his failure to "make the grade" in NUSAS. This document is not only an excellent account of the reasons for the founding of SASO, and a stout defence of its non-racialist intentions. It is also a good example of that combination of tough, even aggressive, language with a basically friendly underlying spirit which was so marked a feature always of Steve's statesmanlike approach to other organisations and persons.

Steve spent a great part of his presidential year touring the campuses and building up support for the young movement. This is a one-year-old organisation which was established at the inaugural conference at the University of the North in July This circular is meant to give your organisation a true and first-hand account of the factors that led to the establishment of the organisation. We also intend giving you a clear picture of where we stand today in relation to the other student organisations in the country.

The dissolution of the SRC at Fort Hare in August that year by the students themselves was a sequel to the stringent measures applied at this then only black University to suppress the freedom of the students to meet and discuss with whomsoever they wanted to.

Even more contained were the sister "Universities" that were established that same year i. The concept of an independent SRC was never known at these places. The Rector had virtually limitless powers of veto over anything the students decided to do. Hence the long period of isolation started. The establishment of the University Christian Movement in opened new avenues for contact.

UCM had a special appeal to students at the University Colleges. The fact that within a year and a half of its existence the UCM had already a black majority in its sessions is indicative of this. Hence with the continued getting together of students from the University Colleges dialogue began again amongst black students.

Concern was expressed that these were white- dominated and paid very little attention to problems peculiar to the black community. In fact some people began to question the very competence of pluralistic groups to examine without bias problems affecting one group especially if the unaffected group is from the oppressor camp. It was felt that a time had come when blacks had to formulate their own thinking, unpolluted by ideas emanating from a group with lots at stake in the status quo.

There was nothing new in this kind of thinking. In bodies like African Students' Association and African Students' Union of South Africa, founded between and in the older black campuses, essentially the same underlying thinking was embodied. However these organisations died off for various reasons. The Durban Students' Union also came and went.

The problem remained unsolved. However this idea never got any real support since to start with black students at the University Colleges were not even allowed to participate freely in these organisations. In the NUSAS Conference of the blacks were made to stay at a church building somewhere in the Grahamstown location, each day being brought to Conference site by cars etc.

On the other hand [Page 11 ] their white "brothers" were staying in residence around the conference site.

So appalling were the conditions that it showed the blacks just how valued they were in the organisation. The overriding impression was that the blacks were there in name only. The swing to the right in the organisation did not meet with the usual counter from the blacks. It was clear that none of the blacks felt a part of the organisation. Hence the Executive that was elected was all white. Shortly thereafter, still in July, black students at a UCM conference demanded time to meet alone as a group.

Ostensibly they were to discuss what to do in the face of the "72 hour" clause which forbade them to remain in a white area for more than 72 hours at a stretch.

However once together they discussed for the first time, formally, the idea of forming a black organisation. They had to choose between a structured and non-structured alliance and they decided on the former for the sake of continuity. The problem was that none of them were student leaders and therefore they could not take binding decisions. In December a conference of SRCs from the black campuses decided overwhelmingly in favour of a black organisation and in July at the inaugural conference of SASO the organisation was formally founded.

It might probably be untrue to give the impression that everything was smooth. However most of the debate arose because of the tendency not to want to do what appears to conform with government policyi. However the argument to go ahead was much stronger. While, as a matter of principle, we would reject separation in a normal society, we have to take cognizance of the fact that ours is far from a normal society.

It is difficult not to look at white society as a group of people bent on perpetuating the status quo. The situation is not made easier by the non-acceptance that black students have met with in all the so called open organisations both religious and secular. All suffer from the same fault basically of accepting as a fact that there shall be white leadership and even worse, that they shall occupy themselves predominantly with problems affecting white society first. These are the students who for instance were not allowed to participate freely in organisations like NUSAS because they were at government-controlled University Colleges.

In choosing to meet on a limited scale rather than not meeting at all, the non-white students shall be choosing the lesser evil, and striving to offset some of the evils that have accrued from the same evil system that made it impossible for them to meet freely with other students. The basic type of affiliation is "centre affiliation".

The SRCs are the power bases. They affiliate on behalf of their students. Where there is no SRC we accept a majority student body decision as an automatic affiliation by that centre. Individual membership is also catered for. It consists of the delegates from the various centres and branches and also the Executive. This is the official policy-making body of SASO. The President is the sole interpreter of policy in between sessions.

It lays stress on Calvinism and Afrikanerdom as criteria for membership. It also concerns itself with a practical application of Christian principles in an immoral society like the South African one. The press is largely directed at white society or the so-called electorate whose values are laced with racial prejudice against black people. Equally SASO rejects the black press which up to now has been largely controlled and some of it financed by government institutions. We believe that alongside Radio Bantu, most of the black press is being used as instruments of propaganda to get people to swallow most of the unbalanced and inflated stories about "what the government is doing for the Bantus" or " Put in a paraphrased form these are: The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing.

They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves. We have reached a stage now where our existence has become an accomplished fact and our way of seeing things has been adopted by a substantial number on the black campuses. Our limited dialogue with NUSAS, which has been along lines of constructive criticism, has been interpreted deliberately by some groups, including officials of ASB as a rejection of nonracialism as a political goal. It is on the other hand, we believe, a painful waste of time to engage in any dialogue with racially-bigoted organisations like the ASB.

Hence this belies the belief that our withdrawal is an end in itself. It is based on discussions at student body meetings, SRC meetings and with small groups of individuals outside local leadership circles. Slowly at first and quite fast of late, the black student community is casting aside the old approach towards solving its problems. A definite spirit of independence and an awareness of ourselves as a group with potential strength is beginning to manifest itself in many ways.

On many an occasion I found the various campuses not only ready to support but also eager to join in directing the thinking of SASO. It was generally agreed that at this stage of our history, the most logical step is to follow the directive given by SASO i. One striking feature is the steep decline in the intensity of the "morality" argument. Some time ago quite a lot of people used to be violently opposed to "segregation" even when practised by blacks against whites.

The idea that blacks and whites can participate as equal partners in an open organisation is being questioned even by the most ardent black supporters of non-racialism.

These people realise now that a lot of time and strength is wasted in maintaining artificial and token nonracialism at student levelartificial not in the sense that it is natural to segregate but rather because even those involved in it have certain prejudices that they cannot get rid of and are therefore basically dishonest to themselves, to their black counterparts and to the community of black people who are called upon to have faith in such people.

Another noticeable feature is that most of the students, while very [Page 18 ] sure of what they did not like in it, and who were quite harsh in their criticism of the old approach, yet lacked a depth of insight into what can be done.

One found wherever he went the question being asked repeatedly "where do we go from here? Hence our originality and imagination have been dulled to the point where it takes a supreme effort to act logically even in order to follow one's beliefs and convictions. A third and also important observation was the eagerness of the students to wish to relate whatever is done to their situation in the community. There is growing awareness of the role the black students may be called upon to play in the emancipation of their community.

The students realise that the isolation of the black intelligentsia from the rest of the black society is a disadvantage to black people as a whole. When everything is said and done one must express pleasant surprise at the quality of leadership on the various campuses. The history of most of the black campuses is marred with restrictions and intimidations.

One would have thought that by now everybody has been cowed down to the point of dogged acceptance of all that comes from authority. Yet at many places I was surprised by the sheer bargaining power that the SRCs have built with their respective authorities. Strong delegations are being sent from most of the black campuses to the SASO conference where a concerted effort will be made to get answers to some of the questions. The conference promises to be both interesting and enlightening especially in view of the diversity that one finds in approach.

But some things are common to allto bear witness to the unity of the black students, to give proper direction and depth to the movement and to make themselves worthy of the claim that they are the leaders of tomorrow. I was Frank Talk" see p. This article and the one that follows, from the August and September issues of the Newsletter respectively, give an authentic exposition of the philosophy of Black Consciousness. Basically the South African white community is a homogeneous community.

It is a community of people who sit to enjoy a privileged position that they do not deserve, are aware of this, and therefore spend their time trying to justify why they are doing so. Where differences in political opinion exist, they are in the process of trying to justify their position of privilege and their usurpation of power.

With their theory of "separate freedoms for the various nations in the multinational state of South Africa" the Nationalists have gone a long way towards giving most of white South Africa some sort of moral explanation for what is happening.

Everyone is quite content to point out that these peoplemeaning the blackswill be free when they are ready to run their own affairs in their own areas. What more could they possibly hope for? We are concerned with that curious bunch of nonconformists who explain their participation in negative terms: These are the people who argue that they are not responsible for white racism and the country's "inhumanity to the black man".

These are the people who claim that they too feel the oppression just as acutely as the blacks and therefore should be jointly involved in the black man's struggle for a place under the sun. In short, these are the people who say that they have black souls wrapped up in white skins. The role of the white liberal in the black man's history in South Africa is a curious one.

Very few black organisations were not under white direction. True to their image, the white liberals always knew what was good for the blacks and told them so.

The wonder of it all is that the black people have believed in them for so long. It was only at the end of the 50s that the blacks started demanding to be their own guardians.

Nowhere is the arrogance of the liberal ideology demonstrated so well as in their insistence that the problems of the country can only be solved by a bilateral approach involving both black and white. This has, by and large, come to be taken in all seriousness as the modus operandi in South Africa by all those who claim they would like a change in the status quo. Hence the multiracial political organisations and parties and the "nonracial" student organisations, all of which insist on integration not only as an end goal but also as a means.

The integration they talk about is first of all artificial in that it is a response to conscious manoeuvre rather than to the dictates of the inner soul. In other words the people forming the integrated complex have been extracted from various segregated societies with their inbuilt complexes of superiority and inferiority and these continue to manifest themselves even in the "nonracial" set-up of the integrated complex.

As a result the integration so achieved is a one-way course, with the whites doing all the talking and the blacks the listening. Let me hasten to say that I am not claiming that segregation is necessarily the natural order; however, given the facts of the situation where a group experiences privilege at the expense of others, then it becomes obvious that a hastily arranged integration cannot be the solution to the problem.

Secondly, this type of integration as a means is almost always unproductive. The participants waste lots of time in an internal sort of mudslinging designed to prove that A is more of a liberal than B. In other words the lack of common ground for solid identification is all the time manifested in internal strifes inside the group.

It will not sound anachronistic to anybody genuinely interested in real integration to learn that blacks are asserting themselves in a society where they are being treated as perpetual unders. One does not need to plan for or actively encourage real integration. Once the various groups within a given community have asserted themselves to the point that mutual respect has to be shown then you have the ingredients for a true and meaningful integration.

At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man, each group to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination there will obviously arise a genuine fusion of the life-styles of the various groups. This is true integration. From this it becomes clear that as long as blacks are suffering from inferiority complexa result of years of deliberate oppression, denigration and derisionthey will be useless as co-architects of a normal society where man is nothing else but man for his own sake.

Hence what is necessary as a prelude to anything else that may come is a very strong grass-roots build-up of black consciousness such that blacks can learn to assert themselves and stake their rightful claim. Thus in adopting the line of a nonracial approach, the liberals are playing their old game. They are claiming a "monopoly on intelligence and moral judgement" and setting the pattern and pace for the realisation of the black man's aspirations. They want to remain in good books with both the black and white worlds.

They want to shy away from all forms of "extremisms", condemning "white supremacy" as being just as bad as "Black Power!

They vacillate between the two worlds, verbalising all the complaints of the blacks beautifully while skilfully extracting what suits them from the exclusive pool of white privileges. But ask them for a moment to give a concrete meaningful programme that they intend adopting, then you will see on whose side they really are.

The myth of integration as propounded under the banner of liberal ideology must be cracked and killed because it makes people believe that something is being done when in actual fact the artificial integrated circles are a soporific on the blacks and provide a vague satisfaction for the guilty-stricken whites.

It works on a false premise that because it is difficult to bring people from different races together in this country, therefore achievement of this is in itself a step forward towards the total liberation of the blacks. Nothing could be more irrelevant and therefore misleading.

Those who believe in it are living in a fool's paradise. First the black-white circles are almost always a creation of white liberals. As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with the blacks, they call a few "intelligent and articulate" blacks to "come around for tea at home", where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question "how can we bring about change in South Africa?

Hence he moves around his white circles whites-only hotels, beaches, restaurants and cinemaswith a lighter load, feeling that he is not like the rest of the others. Yet at the back of his mind is a constant reminder that he is quite comfortable as things stand and therefore should not bother about change. Although he does not vote for the Nats now that they are in the majority anyway , he feels quite secure under the protection offered by the Nats and subconsciously shuns the idea of a change.

This is what demarcates the liberal from the black world. The liberals view the oppression of blacks as a problem that has to be solved, an eye sore spoiling an otherwise beautiful view. From time to time the liberals make themselves forget about the problem or take their eyes off the eyesore. On the other hand, in oppression the blacks are experiencing a situation from which they are unable to escape at any given moment.

Theirs is a struggle to get out of the situation and not merely to solve a peripheral problem as in the case of the liberals. This is why blacks speak with a greater sense of urgency than whites. A game at which the liberals have become masters is that of deliberate evasiveness. The question often comes up "what can I do?

If you ask him to do something like stopping to use segregated facilities or dropping out of varsity to work at menial jobs like all blacks or [Page 23 ] defying and denouncing all provisions that make him privileged, you always get the answer"but that's unrealistic! While this may be true, it only serves to illustrate the fact that no matter what a white man does, the colour of his skinhis passport to privilegewill always put him miles ahead of the black man.

Thus in the ultimate analysis no white person can escape being part of the oppressor camp. This description of "metaphysical guilt" explains adequately that white racism "is only possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty" meted out to the black man.

Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society, liberals waste lots of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal. This arises out of the false belief that we are faced with a black problem. There is nothing the matter with blacks. The sooner the liberals realise this the better for us blacks.

The End of the Black Man

Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track. White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our societywhite racism. Secondly, the black-white mixed circles are static circles with neither direction nor programme.

The real concern of the group is to keep the group going rather than being useful. In this sort of set-up one sees a perfect example of what oppression has done to the blacks. They have been made to feel inferior for so long that for them it is comforting to drink tea, wine or beer with whites who seem to treat them as equals.

This serves to boost up their own ego to the extent of making them feel slightly superior to those blacks who do not get similar treatment from whites. These are the sort of blacks who are a danger to the community. Instead of directing themselves at their black brothers and looking at their common problems from a common platform they choose to [Page 24 ] sing out their lamentations to an apparently sympathetic audience that has become proficient in saying the chorus of "shame?

These dull-witted, self-centred blacks are in the ultimate analysis as guilty of the arrest of progress as their white friends for it is from such groups that the theory of gradualism emanates and this is what keeps the blacks confused and always hoping that one day God will step down from heaven to solve their problems. It is people from such groups who keep on scanning the papers daily to detect any sign of the change they patiently await without working for. When Helen Suzman's 3 majority is increased by a couple of thousands, this is regarded as a major milestone in the "inevitable change".

Nobody looks at the other side of the cointhe large-scale removals of Africans from the urban areas or the impending zoning of places like Grey Street in Durban and a myriad of other manifestations of change for the worse. Does this mean that I am against integration?

I am against the superior-inferior whiteblack stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacherand the black a perpetual pupil and a poor one at that. I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.

If on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you.

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For one cannot escape the fact that the culture shared by the majority group in any given society must ultimately determine the broad direction taken by the joint culture of that society. This need not cramp the style of those who feel differently but on the whole, a country in Africa, in which the majority of the people are African must inevitably exhibit African values and be truly African in style. What of the claim that the blacks are becoming racists? This is a favourite pastime of frustrated liberals who feel their trusteeship [Page 25 ] ground being washed off from under their feet.

These self-appointed trustees of black interests boast of years of experience in their fight for the 'rights of the blacks'. They have been doing things for blacks, on behalf of blacks, and because of blacks. When the blacks announce that the time has come for them to do things for themselves and all by themselves all white liberals shout blue murder!

You're being a racist. You're falling into their trap. Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate. What blacks are doing is merely to respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin.

We are collectively segregated againstwhat can be more logical than for us to respond as a group? When workers come together under the auspices of a trade union to strive for the betterment of their conditions, nobody expresses surprise in the Western world.

It is the done thing. Nobody accuses them of separatist tendencies. Teachers fight their battles, garbagemen do the same, nobody acts as a trustee for another. Somehow, however, when blacks want to do their thing the liberal establishment seems to detect an anomaly.

This is in fact a counter-anomaly. The liberal must understand that the days of the Noble Savage are gone; that the blacks do not need a go-between in this struggle for their own emancipation. No true liberal should feel any resentment at the growth of black consciousness.

Rather, all true liberals should realise that the place for their fight for justice is within their white society. The liberals must realise that they themselves are oppressed if they are true liberals and therefore they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous "they" with whom they can hardly claim identification.

The liberal must apply himself with absolute dedication to the idea of educating his white brothers that the history of the country may have to be rewritten at some stage and that we may live in "a country where colour will not serve to put a man in a box".

The blacks have heard enough of this. In other words, the [Page 26 ] liberal must serve as a lubricating material so that as we change the gears in trying to find a better direction for South Africa, there should be no grinding noises of metal against metal but a free and easy flowing movement which will be characteristic of a well-looked-after vehicle. My friendships, my love, my education, my thinking and every other facet of my life have been carved and shaped within the context of separate development.

In stages during my life I have managed to outgrow some of the things the system taught me. Hopefully what I propose to do now is to take a look at those who participate in opposition to the systemnot from a detached point of view but from the point of view of a black man, conscious of the urgent need for an understanding of what is involved in the new approach"black consciousness". One needs to understand the basics before setting up a remedy.

A number of the organisations now currently "fighting against apartheid" are working on an oversimplified premise.

They have taken a brief look at what is, and have diagnosed the problem incorrectly. They have almost completely forgotten about the side effects and have not even considered the root cause. Hence whatever is improvised as a remedy will hardly cure the condition.

Apartheidboth petty and grandis obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. Hence even carried out faithfully and fairly the policy of apartheid would merit condemnation and vigorous opposition from the indigenous peoples as well as those who see the problem in its correct perspective.

The fact that apartheid has been tied up with white supremacy, capitalist exploitation, and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more [Page 28 ] complex. Material want is bad enough, but coupled with spiritual poverty it kills.

And this latter effect is probably the one that creates mountains of obstacles in the normal course of emancipation of the black people. One should not waste time here dealing with manifestations of material want of the black people. A vast literature has been written on this problem. Possibly a little should be said about spiritual poverty. What makes the black man fail to tick? Is he convinced of his own accord of his inabilities? Or is he simply a defeated person? The answer to this is not a clearcut one.

It is, however, nearer to the last suggestion than anything else. The logic behind white domination is to prepare the black man for the subservient role in this country. Not so long ago this used to be freely said in parliament even about the educational system of the black people.

It is still said even today, although in a much more sophisticated language. To a large extent the evil-doers have succeeded in producing at the output end of their machine a kind of black man who is man only in form. This is the extent to which the process of dehumanisation has advanced. Black people under the Smuts government were oppressed but they were still men. They failed to change the system for many reasons which we shall not consider here.

But the type of black man we have today has lost his manhood. Reduced to an obliging shell, he looks with awe at the white power structure and accepts what he regards as the "inevitable position". Deep inside his anger mounts at the accumulating insult, but he vents it in the wrong directionon his fellow man in the township, on the property of black people.

No longer does he trust leadership, for the mass arrests were blameable on bungling by the leadership, nor is there any to trust. In the privacy of his toilet his face twists in silent condemnation of white society but brightens up in sheepish obedience as he comes out hurrying in response to his master's impatient call. In the home-bound bus or train he joins the chorus that roundly condemns the white man but is first to praise the government in the presence of the police or his employers.

His heart yearns for the comfort of white society and makes him blame himself for not having been "educated" enough to warrant such luxury. Celebrated achievements by whites in the field of sciencewhich he understands only hazilyserve to make him rather convinced of the futility of resistance and to throw away any [Page 29 ] hopes that change may ever come. All in all the black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity.

This is the first truth, bitter as it may seem, that we have to acknowledge before we can start on any programme designed to change the status quo. It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.

This is what we mean by an inward-looking process. This is the definition of "Black Consciousness". No longer was reference made to African culture, it became barbarism.

Africa was the "dark continent". Religious practices and customs were referred to as superstition. The history of African Society was reduced to tribal battles and internecine wars. There was no conscious migration by the people from one place of abode to another.

No, it was always flight from one tyrant who wanted to defeat the tribe not for any positive reason but merely to wipe them out of the face of this earth. No wonder the African child learns to hate his heritage in his days at school. So negative is the image presented to him that he tends to find solace only in close identification with the white society.

No doubt, therefore, part of the approach envisaged in bringing about "black consciousness" has to be directed to the past, to seek to rewrite the history of the black man and to produce in it the heroes who form the core of the African background. To the extent that a vast literature about Gandhi in South Africa is accumulating it can be said that the Indian community already has started in this direction. But only scant reference is made to African heroes.

A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine. Their [Page 30 ] emotions cannot be easily controlled and channelled in a recognisable direction. They always live in the shadow of a more successful society.

Hence in a country like ours they are forced to celebrate holidays like Paul Kruger's day. Heroes' day, Republic day etc. Then too one can extract from our indigenous cultures a lot of positive virtues which should teach the Westerner a lesson or two.

The oneness of community for instance is at the heart of our culture. The easiness with which Africans communicate with each other is not forced by authority but is inherent in the make-up of African people. Thus whereas the white family can stay in an area without knowing its neighbours, Africans develop a sense of belonging to the community within a short time of coming together. Many a hospital official has been confounded by the practice of Indians who bring gifts and presents to patients whose names they can hardly recall.

Again this is a manifestation of the interrelationship between man and man in the black world as opposed to the highly impersonal world in which Whitey lives. These are characteristics we must not allow ourselves to lose. Their value can only be appreciated by those of us who have not as yet been made slaves to technology and the machine. One can quote a myriad of other examples. Here again "black consciousness" seeks to show the black people the value of their own standards and outlook.

It is probably necessary at this stage to warn all and sundry about the limits of endurance of the human mind. This is particularly necessary in the case of the African people. Ground for a revolution is always fertile in the presence of absolute destitution.

At some stage one can foresee a situation where black people will feel they have nothing to live for and will shout unto their God "Thy will be done. If the white God has been doing the talking all along, at some stage the black God will have to raise His voice and make Himself heard over and above noises from His counterpart. What happens at that stage depends largely on what happens in the intervening period. It works on the knowledge that "white hatred" is negative, though understandable, and leads to precipitate and shot-gun methods which may be disastrous for black and white alike.

It seeks to channel the pent-up forces of the angry black masses to meaningful and directional opposition basing its entire struggle on realities of the situation.

Stephen Biko’s Philosophy and Its Pedagogical Implications in South Africa

It wants to ensure a singularity of purpose in the minds of the black people and to make possible total involvement of the masses in a struggle essentially theirs. What of the white man's religionChristianity? It seems the people involved in imparting Christianity to the black people steadfastly refuse to get rid of the rotten foundation which many of the missionaries created when they came.

To this date black people find no message for them in the Bible simply because our ministers are still top busy with moral trivialities. They blow these up as the most important things that Jesus had to say to people. They constantly urge the people to find fault in themselves and by so doing detract from the essence of the struggle in which the people are involved. Deprived of spiritual content, the black people read the bible with a gullibility that is shocking.

While they sing in a chorus of "mea culpa" they are joined by white groups who sing a different version"tua culpa". The anachronism of a well-meaning God who allows people to suffer continually under an obviously immoral system is not lost to young blacks who continue to drop out of Church by the hundreds. Too many people are involved in religion for the blacks to ignore. Obviously the only path open for us now is to redefine the message in the bible and to make it relevant to the struggling masses.

The bible must not be seen to preach that all authority is divinely instituted. It must rather preach that it is a sin to allow oneself to be oppressed. The bible must continually be shown to have something to say to the black man to keep him going in his long journey towards realisation of the self. This is the message implicit in "black theology". Black theology seeks to do away with spiritual poverty of the black people.

While basing itself on the Christian message, black theology seeks to show that Christianity is an adaptable religion that fits in with the cultural situation of the people to whom it is imparted.

Black theology seeks to depict Jesus as a fighting God who saw the exchange of Roman moneythe [Page 32 ] oppressor's coinagein His father's temple as so sacrilegious that it merited a violent reaction from Himthe Son of Man. Thus in all fields "Black Consciousness" seeks to talk to the black man in a language that is his own. It is only by recognising the basic set-up in the black world that one will come to realise the urgent need for a re-awakening of the sleeping masses.

Black consciousness seeks to do this. Needless to say it shall have to be the black people themselves who shall take care of this programme for indeed Sekou Toure was right when he said: To take part in the African revolution, it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people.

And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves and of themselves. In order to achieve real action you must yourself be a living part of Africa and of her thought; you must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress and the happiness of Africa. There is no place outside that fight for the artist or for the intellectual who is not himself concerned with, and completely at one with the people in the great battle of Africa and of suffering humanity.

Over and over again the pattern of resistance to the apartheid-created structures has been the same. First, open and defiant rejection; second, sullen acquiescence and reluctant collaboration; lastly, capitulation and corruption.

The system operates with a cruel relentlessness, and also with seductive bribery: Of particular interest here is the reference in the last paragraph but two to the amount of "community work that neeeds to be done in promoting a spirit of self-reliance".

This article was written a year before Steve decided to devote himself full-time to this kind of work by joining Black Community Programmes. It would be instructive to compare the consistent integrity of all Steve's writings and attitudes on this key issue of "working within the system" with the utterances over a comparable period of time of any other black politician. This question often crosses my mind in many conversations with people throughout the country and on reading various [Page 34 ] newspaper reports on what blacks have to say on topical matters.

On the one hand Mr Pat Poovalingam in Durban was urging the Indian people to celebrate whilst, on the other, people like Mr Mewa Ramgobin and the Labour Party argued the case against celebration. In Zululand Chief Gatsha Buthelezi stated that the Zulu people would celebrate whilst elsewhere pamphlets were distributed from various black sources reminding the people that they would be celebrating the countless sins of the Nationalist Government.

The interesting thing of course was the conspicuous silence of the urban African people except for the hushed objections of Soweto's UBC 5 Not at any stage did anybody state a representative opinion. Anyone staying in South Africa will not be completely surprised by this.

Political opinion is probably very clear-cut on issues of this nature amongst the African people especially. However, since the banning and harassment of black political partiesa dangerous vacuum has been created. The African National Congress and later the Pan-African Congress were banned in ; the Indian Congress was routed out of existence and ever since there has been no coordinated opinion emanating from the black ranks.

Perhaps the Kliptown Charterobjectionable as the circumstances surrounding it might have beenwas the last attempt ever made to instil some amount of positiveness in stating categorically what blacks felt on political questions in the land of their forefathers. After the banning of the black political parties in South Africa, people's hearts were gripped by some kind of foreboding fear for anything political. Not only were politics a closed book, but at every corner one was greeted by a slave-like apathy that often bordered on timidity.

To anyone living in the black world, the hidden anger and turmoil could always be seen shining through the faces and actions of these voiceless masses but it was never verbalised. Even the active phase, thuggery and vandalismwas directed to one's kinda clear manifestation of frustration.

To make it worse, no real hope was offered by the output from the recently created black universities. Sons and fathers alike were concerned about cutting themselves a niche in a situation from which they saw no hope of escaping. After this brief spell of silence during which political activity was [Page 35 ] mainly taken up by liberals, blacks started dabbling with the dangerous theorythat of working within the system. This attitude was exploited to the full by the Nationalist party.

Thus the respectability of Matanzima's Transkei was greatly boosted by Ndamse's decision to join hands with him. Clearly Ndamse, being a one-time banned man, convinced many people by his decision that there was something to be gained out of these apartheid institutions. Soon thereafter the Coloured Labour Party, operating on an anti-apartheid ticket was formed to oppose the pro-apartheid Federal Party within the all-Coloured Coloured Representative Council.

People's logic became strangely twisted. Said a member of the Transkei's opposition Democratic Party: Chief Gatsha Buthelezi had for a long time been regarded as the bastion of resistance to the institution of a territorial authority in Zululand. Then one morning a newspaper intimated that he might just agree to take it up and within weeks Chief Gatsha Buthelezi was indeed the Chief Executive Officer of the Zululand Territorial Authority. Following the capitulation of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, a burst of activity manifested itself in these apartheid institutions.

On the one hand the Labour Party was making full use of the sanctified platform the CRCto air their grievances against the government, on the other Chief Gatsha was fast becoming an embarrassment to the government with the kind of things he was saying. I believe it is just here that the confusion over who are the leaders of the black world began to arise.

Because of the increased verbalisation of black man's complaints, the people especially the white worldbegan to take these various voices as speaking on behalf of and as leaders of the black world. This kind of picture was particularly built up by the English press, who followed in detail everything people like Chief Gatsha Buthelezi did and said.

Of course in the absence of any organized opinion it began to sound even to some black people themselves as if this were the case.

The fact that Matanzima also joined in the bandwagon of militant demands has made everyone sit back and clap. People argue that the Nationalists have [Page 36 ] been caught in their own game. The black lion is beginning to raise its voice. This is a gross over-simplification. What in fact is happening is that the black world is beginning to be completely fragmented and that people are beginning to talk sectional politics. I would rather like to believe that this was foreseen long ago by the Nationalist Party and that it is in fact a part of the programme.

After the kind of noises made by Buthelezi, the Labour Party and of late Matanzima, who can argue that black opinion is being stifled in South Africa? They accept that the rest of South Africa is for whites. Also none of them sees himself as fighting the battle for all black people. Xhosas want their Transkei, the Zulus their Zululand etc. Coloured people harbour secret hopes of being classified as "brown Afrikaners" and therefore meriting admittance into the white laager while Indian people might be given a vote to swell the buffer zone between whites and Africans.

This is false logic. The Transkei, the CRC, Zululand and all these other apartheid institutions are modern-type laagers behind which the whites in this country are going to hide themselves for a long time to come. Slowly the ground is being swept off from under our feet and soon we as blacks will believe completely that our political rights are in fact in our "own" areas. Thereafter we shall find that we have no leg to stand on in making demands for any rights in "mainland White South Africa" which incidentally will comprise more than three-quarters of the land of our forefathers.

This is the major danger that I see facing the black community at the present momentto be so conditioned by the system as to make even our most well-considered resistance to fit within the system both in terms of the means and of the goals. Witness the new swing amongst leaders of the Indian community in Durban.

I must admit I say this with pain in my heart. Ever since word was let loose that the Indian Council will at some near future be elected, a number of intelligent people are thinking of reviving the Indian Congress and letting [Page 37 ] it form some kind of opposition within the system.

This is dangerous retrogressive thinking which should be given no breathing space. These apartheid institutions are swallowing too many good people who would be useful in a meaningful programme of emancipation of the black people.

Who are the leaders of the black world then if they are not to be found in the apartheid institution? Clearly, black people know that their leaders are those people who are now either in Robben Island or in banishment or in exilevoluntary or otherwise.

People like Mandela, Sobukwe, Kathrada, M. Naidoo and many others will always have a place of honour in our minds as the true leaders of the people. They may have been branded communists, saboteurs, or similar namesin fact they may have been convicted of similar offences in law courts but this does not subtract from the real essence of their worth.

These were people who acted with a dedication unparalleled in modern times. Their concern with our plight as black people made them gain the natural support of the mass of black people.

We may disagree with some things they did but know that they spoke the language of the people. Does this necessarily mean that I see absolutely no advantage in the present set-up? Unless the political astuteness of the black people involved in these various apartheid institutions is further sharpened, I am afraid we are fast approaching an impasse.

The new generation may be right in accusing us of collaboration in our own destruction. In Germany the petty officials who decided on which Jews were to be taken away were also Jews. As soon as the dissident factors outside the apartheid institutions are completely silenced, they will come for those who make noise inside the system. Perhaps one should be a little positive at this stage. I completely discourage the movement of people from the left to join the institutions of apartheid.

In laying out a strategy we often have to take cognizance of the enemy's strength and as far as I can assess all of us who want to fight within the system are completely underestimating the influence the system has on us. What seems to me to be logical at this stage is for the left to continually pressurise the various apartheid institutions to move in the direction of testing the limits of possibility within the system, to prove the whole game a sham and to break off the system.

I will take the example of the Labour Party be- [Page 38 ] cause it sounds as the most well-organised dissident group in the system. The Coloured Labour Party stood for elections on an anti-apartheid ticket and won most of the elected seats. Further, the Labour Party wasted no time in spelling out its anti-apartheid stance and revived political activity to a great extent within the Coloured community. In fact the growing consciousness of the possibility of political action amongst the Coloured people is due to the Labour Party.

Pretty soon the Labour Party will find that it is singing the same tune and whatever they say will cease to be of news value. In the meantime Tom Swartz will start making demands for the Coloured people and will probably gain a few concessions. The Coloured people will then realise that in fact a positive stand like that of Tom Swartz's is more welcome than a negative attitude like that of the Labour Party who keep on saying the same things.

Then the Labour Party will start falling into disfavour. This is not just theoretical. It has happened in the past with Matanzima and Guzana in the Transkei. Guzana's partyonce the pride of dissident Transkeians who wanted to demonstrate their rejection of the systemhas now been relegated to the background, operating even on the right of Matanzima's party whose militant demands are being seen as a more meaningful opposition to the system than a rehashed debate on the protection of white interests in the Transkei.

Therefore I see the real value of the Labour Party being in galvanising its forces now, organising them and pulling out of the Coloured Representative Council together with the support of all the Coloured people.

The longer they stay in the CRC, the more they risk being irrelevant. There is a lot of community work that needs to be done in promoting a spirit of self-reliance and black consciousness among all black people in South Africa. Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track.

White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our societywhite racism.

Secondly, the black-white mixed circles are static circles with neither direction nor programme. The real concern of the group is to keep the group going rather than being useful. In this sort of set-up one sees a perfect example of what oppression has done to the blacks.

They have been made to feel inferior for so long that for them it is comforting to drink tea, wine or beer with whites who seem to treat them as equals. This serves to boost up their own ego to the extent of making them feel slightly superior to those blacks who do not get similar treatment from whites. These are the sort of blacks who are a danger to the community. Instead of directing themselves at their black brothers and looking at their common problems from a common platform they choose to [Page 24 ] sing out their lamentations to an apparently sympathetic audience that has become proficient in saying the chorus of "shame?

These dull-witted, self-centred blacks are in the ultimate analysis as guilty of the arrest of progress as their white friends for it is from such groups that the theory of gradualism emanates and this is what keeps the blacks confused and always hoping that one day God will step down from heaven to solve their problems. It is people from such groups who keep on scanning the papers daily to detect any sign of the change they patiently await without working for.

When Helen Suzman's 3 majority is increased by a couple of thousands, this is regarded as a major milestone in the "inevitable change". Nobody looks at the other side of the cointhe large-scale removals of Africans from the urban areas or the impending zoning of places like Grey Street in Durban and a myriad of other manifestations of change for the worse.

Does this mean that I am against integration? I am against the superior-inferior whiteblack stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacherand the black a perpetual pupil and a poor one at that. I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress.

I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people. If on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you.

For one cannot escape the fact that the culture shared by the majority group in any given society must ultimately determine the broad direction taken by the joint culture of that society.

This need not cramp the style of those who feel differently but on the whole, a country in Africa, in which the majority of the people are African must inevitably exhibit African values and be truly African in style. What of the claim that the blacks are becoming racists? This is a favourite pastime of frustrated liberals who feel their trusteeship [Page 25 ] ground being washed off from under their feet.

These self-appointed trustees of black interests boast of years of experience in their fight for the 'rights of the blacks'. They have been doing things for blacks, on behalf of blacks, and because of blacks. When the blacks announce that the time has come for them to do things for themselves and all by themselves all white liberals shout blue murder! You're being a racist. You're falling into their trap. Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation.

In other words one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate. What blacks are doing is merely to respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin. We are collectively segregated againstwhat can be more logical than for us to respond as a group? When workers come together under the auspices of a trade union to strive for the betterment of their conditions, nobody expresses surprise in the Western world.

It is the done thing. Nobody accuses them of separatist tendencies. Teachers fight their battles, garbagemen do the same, nobody acts as a trustee for another. Somehow, however, when blacks want to do their thing the liberal establishment seems to detect an anomaly. This is in fact a counter-anomaly. The liberal must understand that the days of the Noble Savage are gone; that the blacks do not need a go-between in this struggle for their own emancipation. No true liberal should feel any resentment at the growth of black consciousness.

Rather, all true liberals should realise that the place for their fight for justice is within their white society. The liberals must realise that they themselves are oppressed if they are true liberals and therefore they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous "they" with whom they can hardly claim identification.

The liberal must apply himself with absolute dedication to the idea of educating his white brothers that the history of the country may have to be rewritten at some stage and that we may live in "a country where colour will not serve to put a man in a box".

The blacks have heard enough of this. In other words, the [Page 26 ] liberal must serve as a lubricating material so that as we change the gears in trying to find a better direction for South Africa, there should be no grinding noises of metal against metal but a free and easy flowing movement which will be characteristic of a well-looked-after vehicle.

My friendships, my love, my education, my thinking and every other facet of my life have been carved and shaped within the context of separate development. In stages during my life I have managed to outgrow some of the things the system taught me. Hopefully what I propose to do now is to take a look at those who participate in opposition to the systemnot from a detached point of view but from the point of view of a black man, conscious of the urgent need for an understanding of what is involved in the new approach"black consciousness".

One needs to understand the basics before setting up a remedy. A number of the organisations now currently "fighting against apartheid" are working on an oversimplified premise. They have taken a brief look at what is, and have diagnosed the problem incorrectly. They have almost completely forgotten about the side effects and have not even considered the root cause.

Hence whatever is improvised as a remedy will hardly cure the condition. Apartheidboth petty and grandis obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. Hence even carried out faithfully and fairly the policy of apartheid would merit condemnation and vigorous opposition from the indigenous peoples as well as those who see the problem in its correct perspective.

The fact that apartheid has been tied up with white supremacy, capitalist exploitation, and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more [Page 28 ] complex. Material want is bad enough, but coupled with spiritual poverty it kills. And this latter effect is probably the one that creates mountains of obstacles in the normal course of emancipation of the black people. One should not waste time here dealing with manifestations of material want of the black people. A vast literature has been written on this problem.

Possibly a little should be said about spiritual poverty. What makes the black man fail to tick? Is he convinced of his own accord of his inabilities? Or is he simply a defeated person? The answer to this is not a clearcut one. It is, however, nearer to the last suggestion than anything else. The logic behind white domination is to prepare the black man for the subservient role in this country.

Not so long ago this used to be freely said in parliament even about the educational system of the black people. It is still said even today, although in a much more sophisticated language. To a large extent the evil-doers have succeeded in producing at the output end of their machine a kind of black man who is man only in form. This is the extent to which the process of dehumanisation has advanced.

Black people under the Smuts government were oppressed but they were still men. They failed to change the system for many reasons which we shall not consider here. But the type of black man we have today has lost his manhood. Reduced to an obliging shell, he looks with awe at the white power structure and accepts what he regards as the "inevitable position".

Deep inside his anger mounts at the accumulating insult, but he vents it in the wrong directionon his fellow man in the township, on the property of black people.

No longer does he trust leadership, for the mass arrests were blameable on bungling by the leadership, nor is there any to trust. In the privacy of his toilet his face twists in silent condemnation of white society but brightens up in sheepish obedience as he comes out hurrying in response to his master's impatient call. In the home-bound bus or train he joins the chorus that roundly condemns the white man but is first to praise the government in the presence of the police or his employers.

His heart yearns for the comfort of white society and makes him blame himself for not having been "educated" enough to warrant such luxury. Celebrated achievements by whites in the field of sciencewhich he understands only hazilyserve to make him rather convinced of the futility of resistance and to throw away any [Page 29 ] hopes that change may ever come.

All in all the black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity.

This is the first truth, bitter as it may seem, that we have to acknowledge before we can start on any programme designed to change the status quo. It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality.

The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.

This is what we mean by an inward-looking process. This is the definition of "Black Consciousness". No longer was reference made to African culture, it became barbarism. Africa was the "dark continent". Religious practices and customs were referred to as superstition.

The history of African Society was reduced to tribal battles and internecine wars. There was no conscious migration by the people from one place of abode to another. No, it was always flight from one tyrant who wanted to defeat the tribe not for any positive reason but merely to wipe them out of the face of this earth.

No wonder the African child learns to hate his heritage in his days at school. So negative is the image presented to him that he tends to find solace only in close identification with the white society. No doubt, therefore, part of the approach envisaged in bringing about "black consciousness" has to be directed to the past, to seek to rewrite the history of the black man and to produce in it the heroes who form the core of the African background.

To the extent that a vast literature about Gandhi in South Africa is accumulating it can be said that the Indian community already has started in this direction.

But only scant reference is made to African heroes. A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine. Their [Page 30 ] emotions cannot be easily controlled and channelled in a recognisable direction. They always live in the shadow of a more successful society. Hence in a country like ours they are forced to celebrate holidays like Paul Kruger's day.

Heroes' day, Republic day etc. Then too one can extract from our indigenous cultures a lot of positive virtues which should teach the Westerner a lesson or two. The oneness of community for instance is at the heart of our culture. The easiness with which Africans communicate with each other is not forced by authority but is inherent in the make-up of African people. Thus whereas the white family can stay in an area without knowing its neighbours, Africans develop a sense of belonging to the community within a short time of coming together.

Many a hospital official has been confounded by the practice of Indians who bring gifts and presents to patients whose names they can hardly recall. Again this is a manifestation of the interrelationship between man and man in the black world as opposed to the highly impersonal world in which Whitey lives. These are characteristics we must not allow ourselves to lose. Their value can only be appreciated by those of us who have not as yet been made slaves to technology and the machine.

One can quote a myriad of other examples. Here again "black consciousness" seeks to show the black people the value of their own standards and outlook. It is probably necessary at this stage to warn all and sundry about the limits of endurance of the human mind.

This is particularly necessary in the case of the African people.

Ground for a revolution is always fertile in the presence of absolute destitution. At some stage one can foresee a situation where black people will feel they have nothing to live for and will shout unto their God "Thy will be done. If the white God has been doing the talking all along, at some stage the black God will have to raise His voice and make Himself heard over and above noises from His counterpart.

What happens at that stage depends largely on what happens in the intervening period. It works on the knowledge that "white hatred" is negative, though understandable, and leads to precipitate and shot-gun methods which may be disastrous for black and white alike. It seeks to channel the pent-up forces of the angry black masses to meaningful and directional opposition basing its entire struggle on realities of the situation.

It wants to ensure a singularity of purpose in the minds of the black people and to make possible total involvement of the masses in a struggle essentially theirs. What of the white man's religionChristianity? It seems the people involved in imparting Christianity to the black people steadfastly refuse to get rid of the rotten foundation which many of the missionaries created when they came.

To this date black people find no message for them in the Bible simply because our ministers are still top busy with moral trivialities. They blow these up as the most important things that Jesus had to say to people. They constantly urge the people to find fault in themselves and by so doing detract from the essence of the struggle in which the people are involved.

Deprived of spiritual content, the black people read the bible with a gullibility that is shocking. While they sing in a chorus of "mea culpa" they are joined by white groups who sing a different version"tua culpa".

The anachronism of a well-meaning God who allows people to suffer continually under an obviously immoral system is not lost to young blacks who continue to drop out of Church by the hundreds. Too many people are involved in religion for the blacks to ignore. Obviously the only path open for us now is to redefine the message in the bible and to make it relevant to the struggling masses. The bible must not be seen to preach that all authority is divinely instituted.

It must rather preach that it is a sin to allow oneself to be oppressed. The bible must continually be shown to have something to say to the black man to keep him going in his long journey towards realisation of the self.

This is the message implicit in "black theology". Black theology seeks to do away with spiritual poverty of the black people. While basing itself on the Christian message, black theology seeks to show that Christianity is an adaptable religion that fits in with the cultural situation of the people to whom it is imparted.

Black theology seeks to depict Jesus as a fighting God who saw the exchange of Roman moneythe [Page 32 ] oppressor's coinagein His father's temple as so sacrilegious that it merited a violent reaction from Himthe Son of Man. Thus in all fields "Black Consciousness" seeks to talk to the black man in a language that is his own.

It is only by recognising the basic set-up in the black world that one will come to realise the urgent need for a re-awakening of the sleeping masses. Black consciousness seeks to do this. Needless to say it shall have to be the black people themselves who shall take care of this programme for indeed Sekou Toure was right when he said: To take part in the African revolution, it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people.

And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves and of themselves. In order to achieve real action you must yourself be a living part of Africa and of her thought; you must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress and the happiness of Africa.

There is no place outside that fight for the artist or for the intellectual who is not himself concerned with, and completely at one with the people in the great battle of Africa and of suffering humanity. Over and over again the pattern of resistance to the apartheid-created structures has been the same.

First, open and defiant rejection; second, sullen acquiescence and reluctant collaboration; lastly, capitulation and corruption.

The system operates with a cruel relentlessness, and also with seductive bribery: Of particular interest here is the reference in the last paragraph but two to the amount of "community work that neeeds to be done in promoting a spirit of self-reliance". This article was written a year before Steve decided to devote himself full-time to this kind of work by joining Black Community Programmes.

It would be instructive to compare the consistent integrity of all Steve's writings and attitudes on this key issue of "working within the system" with the utterances over a comparable period of time of any other black politician. This question often crosses my mind in many conversations with people throughout the country and on reading various [Page 34 ] newspaper reports on what blacks have to say on topical matters.

On the one hand Mr Pat Poovalingam in Durban was urging the Indian people to celebrate whilst, on the other, people like Mr Mewa Ramgobin and the Labour Party argued the case against celebration. In Zululand Chief Gatsha Buthelezi stated that the Zulu people would celebrate whilst elsewhere pamphlets were distributed from various black sources reminding the people that they would be celebrating the countless sins of the Nationalist Government.

The interesting thing of course was the conspicuous silence of the urban African people except for the hushed objections of Soweto's UBC 5 Not at any stage did anybody state a representative opinion. Anyone staying in South Africa will not be completely surprised by this. Political opinion is probably very clear-cut on issues of this nature amongst the African people especially.

However, since the banning and harassment of black political partiesa dangerous vacuum has been created. The African National Congress and later the Pan-African Congress were banned in ; the Indian Congress was routed out of existence and ever since there has been no coordinated opinion emanating from the black ranks. Perhaps the Kliptown Charterobjectionable as the circumstances surrounding it might have beenwas the last attempt ever made to instil some amount of positiveness in stating categorically what blacks felt on political questions in the land of their forefathers.

After the banning of the black political parties in South Africa, people's hearts were gripped by some kind of foreboding fear for anything political. Not only were politics a closed book, but at every corner one was greeted by a slave-like apathy that often bordered on timidity. To anyone living in the black world, the hidden anger and turmoil could always be seen shining through the faces and actions of these voiceless masses but it was never verbalised.

Even the active phase, thuggery and vandalismwas directed to one's kinda clear manifestation of frustration. To make it worse, no real hope was offered by the output from the recently created black universities.

Sons and fathers alike were concerned about cutting themselves a niche in a situation from which they saw no hope of escaping. After this brief spell of silence during which political activity was [Page 35 ] mainly taken up by liberals, blacks started dabbling with the dangerous theorythat of working within the system. This attitude was exploited to the full by the Nationalist party. Thus the respectability of Matanzima's Transkei was greatly boosted by Ndamse's decision to join hands with him.

Clearly Ndamse, being a one-time banned man, convinced many people by his decision that there was something to be gained out of these apartheid institutions.

Soon thereafter the Coloured Labour Party, operating on an anti-apartheid ticket was formed to oppose the pro-apartheid Federal Party within the all-Coloured Coloured Representative Council. People's logic became strangely twisted.

Said a member of the Transkei's opposition Democratic Party: Chief Gatsha Buthelezi had for a long time been regarded as the bastion of resistance to the institution of a territorial authority in Zululand.

Then one morning a newspaper intimated that he might just agree to take it up and within weeks Chief Gatsha Buthelezi was indeed the Chief Executive Officer of the Zululand Territorial Authority. Following the capitulation of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, a burst of activity manifested itself in these apartheid institutions.

On the one hand the Labour Party was making full use of the sanctified platform the CRCto air their grievances against the government, on the other Chief Gatsha was fast becoming an embarrassment to the government with the kind of things he was saying. I believe it is just here that the confusion over who are the leaders of the black world began to arise. Because of the increased verbalisation of black man's complaints, the people especially the white worldbegan to take these various voices as speaking on behalf of and as leaders of the black world.

This kind of picture was particularly built up by the English press, who followed in detail everything people like Chief Gatsha Buthelezi did and said.

Of course in the absence of any organized opinion it began to sound even to some black people themselves as if this were the case. The fact that Matanzima also joined in the bandwagon of militant demands has made everyone sit back and clap. People argue that the Nationalists have [Page 36 ] been caught in their own game.

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The black lion is beginning to raise its voice. This is a gross over-simplification. What in fact is happening is that the black world is beginning to be completely fragmented and that people are beginning to talk sectional politics. I would rather like to believe that this was foreseen long ago by the Nationalist Party and that it is in fact a part of the programme. After the kind of noises made by Buthelezi, the Labour Party and of late Matanzima, who can argue that black opinion is being stifled in South Africa?

They accept that the rest of South Africa is for whites. Also none of them sees himself as fighting the battle for all black people. Xhosas want their Transkei, the Zulus their Zululand etc. Coloured people harbour secret hopes of being classified as "brown Afrikaners" and therefore meriting admittance into the white laager while Indian people might be given a vote to swell the buffer zone between whites and Africans.

This is false logic. The Transkei, the CRC, Zululand and all these other apartheid institutions are modern-type laagers behind which the whites in this country are going to hide themselves for a long time to come. Slowly the ground is being swept off from under our feet and soon we as blacks will believe completely that our political rights are in fact in our "own" areas.

Thereafter we shall find that we have no leg to stand on in making demands for any rights in "mainland White South Africa" which incidentally will comprise more than three-quarters of the land of our forefathers. This is the major danger that I see facing the black community at the present momentto be so conditioned by the system as to make even our most well-considered resistance to fit within the system both in terms of the means and of the goals.

Witness the new swing amongst leaders of the Indian community in Durban. I must admit I say this with pain in my heart. Ever since word was let loose that the Indian Council will at some near future be elected, a number of intelligent people are thinking of reviving the Indian Congress and letting [Page 37 ] it form some kind of opposition within the system.

This is dangerous retrogressive thinking which should be given no breathing space. These apartheid institutions are swallowing too many good people who would be useful in a meaningful programme of emancipation of the black people.

Who are the leaders of the black world then if they are not to be found in the apartheid institution? Clearly, black people know that their leaders are those people who are now either in Robben Island or in banishment or in exilevoluntary or otherwise.

People like Mandela, Sobukwe, Kathrada, M. Naidoo and many others will always have a place of honour in our minds as the true leaders of the people. They may have been branded communists, saboteurs, or similar namesin fact they may have been convicted of similar offences in law courts but this does not subtract from the real essence of their worth.

These were people who acted with a dedication unparalleled in modern times. Their concern with our plight as black people made them gain the natural support of the mass of black people. We may disagree with some things they did but know that they spoke the language of the people.

Does this necessarily mean that I see absolutely no advantage in the present set-up? Unless the political astuteness of the black people involved in these various apartheid institutions is further sharpened, I am afraid we are fast approaching an impasse.

The new generation may be right in accusing us of collaboration in our own destruction. In Germany the petty officials who decided on which Jews were to be taken away were also Jews. As soon as the dissident factors outside the apartheid institutions are completely silenced, they will come for those who make noise inside the system.

Perhaps one should be a little positive at this stage.

I completely discourage the movement of people from the left to join the institutions of apartheid. In laying out a strategy we often have to take cognizance of the enemy's strength and as far as I can assess all of us who want to fight within the system are completely underestimating the influence the system has on us. What seems to me to be logical at this stage is for the left to continually pressurise the various apartheid institutions to move in the direction of testing the limits of possibility within the system, to prove the whole game a sham and to break off the system.

I will take the example of the Labour Party be- [Page 38 ] cause it sounds as the most well-organised dissident group in the system. The Coloured Labour Party stood for elections on an anti-apartheid ticket and won most of the elected seats. Further, the Labour Party wasted no time in spelling out its anti-apartheid stance and revived political activity to a great extent within the Coloured community.

In fact the growing consciousness of the possibility of political action amongst the Coloured people is due to the Labour Party. Pretty soon the Labour Party will find that it is singing the same tune and whatever they say will cease to be of news value. In the meantime Tom Swartz will start making demands for the Coloured people and will probably gain a few concessions. The Coloured people will then realise that in fact a positive stand like that of Tom Swartz's is more welcome than a negative attitude like that of the Labour Party who keep on saying the same things.

Then the Labour Party will start falling into disfavour. This is not just theoretical. It has happened in the past with Matanzima and Guzana in the Transkei. Guzana's partyonce the pride of dissident Transkeians who wanted to demonstrate their rejection of the systemhas now been relegated to the background, operating even on the right of Matanzima's party whose militant demands are being seen as a more meaningful opposition to the system than a rehashed debate on the protection of white interests in the Transkei.

Therefore I see the real value of the Labour Party being in galvanising its forces now, organising them and pulling out of the Coloured Representative Council together with the support of all the Coloured people. The longer they stay in the CRC, the more they risk being irrelevant. There is a lot of community work that needs to be done in promoting a spirit of self-reliance and black consciousness among all black people in South Africa. This is what the Labour Party should resort to doing.

Further operation within the system may only lead to political castration and a creation of an "I-am-a-Coloured" attitude which will prove a set back to the black man's programme of emancipation and will create major obstacles in the establishment of a non-racial society once our problems are settled. This to me sounds the only way of turning a disadvantage into an advantage.

It is true of not only the Labour Party but also of all black [Page 39 ] people of conscience who are now operating within the system. Thus in an effort to maintain our solidarity and relevance to the situation we must resist all attempts at the fragmentation of our resistance.

Black people must recognise the various institutions of apartheid for what they aregags intended to get black people fighting separately for certain "freedoms" and "gains" which were prescribed for them long ago.

We must refuse to accept it as inevitable that the only political action the blacks may take is through these institutions. Granted that it may be more attractive and even safer to join the system, we must still recognise that in doing so we are well on the way towards selling our souls. The conference drew together a number of black organisations who might be interested in a closer association. This conference proved to be a staging post on the way to the formation of the Black People's Convention in Johannesburg in December of that year.

Somehow Africans are not expected to have any deep understanding of their own culture or even of themselves. Thus we have the thickest of volumes on some of the strangest subjectseven "the feeding habits of the Urban Africans", a publication by a fairly "liberal" group, Institute of Race Relations. In my opinion it is not necessary to talk with Africans about African culture.

However, in the light of the above statements one realises that there is so much confusion sown, not only amongst casual non-African readers, but even amongst Africans themselves, that perhaps a sincere attempt should be made at emphasising the authentic cultural aspects of the African people by Africans themselves. Since that unfortunate datewe have been experiencing a process of acculturation. It is perhaps presumptuous to call it "acculturation" because this term implies a fusion of different cultures.

In [Page 41 ] our case this fusion has been extremely one-sided. Whereas the African culture was unsophisticated and simple, the Anglo-Boer culture had all the trappings of a colonialist culture and therefore was heavily equipped for conquest. Where they could, they conquered by persuasion, using a highly exclusive religion that denounced all other Gods and demanded a strict code of behaviour with respect to clothing, education ritual and custom. Where it was impossible to convert, fire-arms were readily available and used to advantage.

Hence the Anglo-Boer culture was the more powerful culture in almost all facets. This is where the African began to lose a grip on himself and his surroundings. Thus in taking a look at cultural aspects of the African people one inevitably finds himself having to compare.

To justify its exploitative basis the Anglo-Boer culture has at all times been directed at bestowing an inferior status to all cultural aspects of the indigenous people. I am against the belief that African culture is time-bound, the notion that with the conquest of the African all his culture was obliterated. I am also against the belief that when one talks of African culture one is necessarily talking of the pre-Van Riebeeck culture. Obviously the African culture has had to sustain severe blows and may have been battered nearly out of shape by the bellingerent cultures it collided with, yet in essence even today one can easily find the fundamental aspects of the pure African culture in the present day African.

Hence in taking a look at African culture I am going to refer as well to what I have termed the modern African culture. One of the most fundamental aspects of our culture is the importance we attach to Man. Ours has always been a Man-centred society. Westerners have on many occasions been surprised at the capacity we have for talking to each othernot for the sake of arriving at a particular conclusion but merely to enjoy the communication for its own sake.

Intimacy is a term not exclusive for particular friends but applying to a whole group of people who find themselves together either through work or through residential requirements. In fact in the traditional African culture, there is no such thing as two friends.

Conversation groups were more or less naturally determined by age and division of labour. Thus one would find all boys whose job was to look after cattle periodically meeting at popular [Page 42 ] spots to engage in conversation about their cattle, girlfriends, parents, heroes etc.

All commonly shared their secrets, joys and woes. No one felt unnecessarily an intruder into someone else's business. The curiosity manifested was welcome. It came out of a desire to share. This pattern one would find in all age groups. House visiting was always a feature of the elderly folk's way of life.

No reason was needed as a basis for visits. It was all part of our deep concern for each other. These are things never done in the Westerner's culture. A visitor to someone's house, with the exception of friends, is always met with the question "what can I do for you? This attitude to see people not as themselves but as agents for some particular function either to one's disadvantage or advantage is foreign to us. We are not a suspicious race.

We believe in the inherent goodness of man. We enjoy man for himself. We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer to the varied problems of life.

Hence in all we do we always place Man first and hence all our action is usually joint community oriented action rather than the individualism which is the hallmark of the capitalist approach. Instead we are prepared to have a much slower progress in an effort to make sure that all of us are marching to the same tune. Nothing dramatises the eagerness of the African to communicate with each other more than their love for song and rhythm. Music in the African culture features in all emotional states.

When we go to work, we share the burdens and pleasures of the work we are doing through music. This particular facet strangely enough has filtered through to the present day. Tourists always watch with amazement the synchrony of music and action as Africans working at a road side use their picks and shovels with well-timed precision to the accompaniment of a background song. Battle songs were a feature of the long march to war in the olden days.

Girls and boys never played any games without using music and rhythm as its basis. In other words with Africans, music and rhythm were not luxuries but part and parcel of our way of communication. Any suffering we experienced was made much more real by song and rhythm.

There is no doubt that the so called "Negro spirituals" sung by Black slaves in the States as they toiled under oppression were indicative of their [Page 43 ] African heritage.

The major thing to note about our songs is that they never were songs for individuals. All African songs are group songs. Though many have words, this is not the most important thing about them.

Tunes were adapted to suit the occasion and had the wonderful effect of making everybody read the same things from the common experience. In war the songs reassured those who were scared, highlighted the determination of the regiment to win a particular encounter and made much more urgent to the need to settle the score; in suffering, as in the case of the Black slaves, they derived sustenance out of a feeling of togetherness, at work the binding rhythm makes everybody brush off the burden and hence Africans can continue for hours on end because of this added energy.

Attitudes of Africans to property again show just how unindividualistic the African is. As everybody here knows, African society had the village community as its basis.

Africans always believed in having many villages with a controllable number of people in each rather than the reverse. This obviously was a requirement to suit the needs of a community-based and man-centred society. Hence most things were jointly owned by the group, for instance there was no such thing as individual land ownership. The land belonged to the people and was merely under the control of the local chief on behalf of the people.

When cattle went to graze it was on an open veld and not on anybody's specific farm. Farming and agriculture, though on individual family basis, had many characteristics of joint efforts. Each person could by a simple request and holding of a special ceremony, invite neighbours to come and work on his plots.

This service was returned in kind and no remuneration was ever given. Poverty was a foreign concept. This could only be really brought about to the entire community by an adverse climate during a particular season. It never was considered repugnant to ask one's neighbours for help if one was struggling.

In almost all instances there was help between individuals, tribe and tribe, chief and chief etc. Another important aspect of the African culture is our mental attitude to problems presented by life in general. Whereas the Westerner is geared to use a problem-solving approach following very trenchant analyses, our approach is that of situation-experiencing. I will quote from Dr Kaunda to illustrate [Page 44 ] this point: The Westerner has an aggressive mentality. When he sees a problem he will not rest until he has formulated some solution to it.

He cannot live with contradictory ideas in his mind; he must settle for one or the other or else evolve a third idea in his mind which harmonises or reconciles the other two. And he is vigorously scientific in rejecting solutions for which there is no basis in logic.

He draws a sharp line between the natural and the supernatural, the rational and non-rational, and more often than not, he dismisses the supernatural and non-rational as superstition. Africans being a pre-scientific people do not recognise any conceptual cleavage between the natural and supernatural.

They experience a situation rather than face a problem. By this I mean they allow both the rational and non-rational elements to make an impact upon them, and any action they may take could be described more as a response of the total personality to the situation than the result of some mental exercise. This I find a most apt analysis of the essential difference in the approach to life of these two groups. We as a community are prepared to accept that nature will have its enigmas which are beyond our powers to solve.

Many people have interpreted this attitude as lack of initiative and drive yet in spite of my belief in the strong need for scientific experimentation I cannot help feeling that more time also should be spent in teaching man and man to live together and that perhaps the African personality with its attitude of laying less stress on power and more stress on man is well on the way to solving our confrontation problems.

All people are agreed that Africans are a deeply religious race. We all accepted without any doubt the existence of a God. We had our own community of saints. We believedand this was consistent with out views of lifethat all people who died had a special place next to God.

We felt that a communication with God, could only be through these people. We never knew anything about hellwe do not believe that God can create people only to punish them eternally after a short period on earth.

Again we did not believe that religion could be featured as a separate part of our existence on earth. It was manifest in our daily lives. We thanked God through our ancestors before we drank beer, married, worked etc. We would obviously find it artificial to create special occasions for worship. Neither did we see it logical to have a particular building in which all worship would be conducted.

We believed that God was always in communication with us and therefore merited attention everywhere and anywhere. It was the missionaries who confused our people with their new religion.

By some strange logic, they argued that theirs was a scientific religion and ours was mere superstition in spite of the biological discrepancies so obvious in the basis of their religion. They further went on to preach a theology of the existence of hell, scaring our fathers and mothers with stories about burning in eternal flames and gnashing of teeth and grinding of bone. This cold cruel religion was strange to us but our fore-fathers were sufficiently scared of the unknown impending anger to believe that it was worth a try.

Down went our cultural values! Yet it is difficult to kill the African heritage. There remains, in spite of the superficial cultural similarities between the detribalised and the Westerner, a number of cultural characteristics that mark out the detribalised as an African. I am not here making a case for separation on the basis of cultural differences.

I am sufficiently proud to believe that under a normal situation, Africans can comfortably stay with people of other cultures and be able to contribute to the joint cultures of the communities they have joined. However, what I want to illustrate here is that even in a pluralistic society like ours, there are still some cultural traits that we can boast of which have been able to withstand the process of deliberate bastardisation. These are aspects of the modern African culturea culture that has used concepts from the white world to expand on inherent cultural characteristics.

Thus we see that in the area of music, the African still expresses himself with conviction. The craze about jazz arises out of a conversion by the African artists of mere notes to meaningful music, expressive of real feelings. The Monkey Jive, Soul etc. Yet when soul struck with its all-engulfing rhythm it immediately caught on and set hundreds of millions of black bodies in gyration throughout the world.

These were people reading in soul the real meaningthe defiant message "say it loud! I'm black and I'm proud". This is fast becoming our modern culture. A culture of defiance, self-assertion and group pride and solidarity.

This is a culture that emanates from a situation of common experience of oppression. Just as it now finds expression in our music and our dress, it will spread to other aspects. This is the new and modern black culture to which we have given a major contribution. This is the modern black culture that is responsible for the restoration of our faith in ourselves and therefore offers a hope in the direction we are taking from here.

Thus in its entirety the African Culture spells us out as people particularly close to nature. As Kaunda puts it, our people may be unlettered and their physical horizons may be limited yet "they inhabit a larger world than the sophisticated Westerner who has magnified his physical senses through inverted gadgets at the price all too often of cutting out the dimension of the spiritual.

The advent of the Western Culture has changed our outlook almost drastically. No more could we run our own affairs. We were required to fit in as people tolerated with great restraint in a western type society. We were tolerated simply because our cheap labour is needed. Hence we are judged in terms of standards we are not responsible for. Whenever colonisation sets in with its dominant culture it devours the native culture and leaves behind a bastardised culture that can only thrive at the rate and pace allowed it by the dominant culture.

This is what has happened to the African culture. It is called a sub-culture purely because the African people in the urban complexes are mimicking the white man rather unashamedly. In rejecting Western values, therefore, we are rejecting those things that are not only foreign to us but that seek to destroy the most cherished of our beliefsthat the corner-stone of society is man himselfnot just his welfare, not his material wellbeing but just man himself with all his ramifications.

We reject the power-based society of the Westerner that seems to be ever concerned with perfecting [Page 47 ] their technological know-how while losing out on their spiritual dimension. The great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great gift still has to come from Africagiving the world a more human face. This definition illustrates to us a number of things: From the above observations therefore, we can see that the term black is not necessarily all-inclusive; i.

If one's aspiration is whiteness but his pigmentation makes attainment of this impossible, then that person is a non-white.

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Any man who calls a white man "Baas", any man who serves in the police force or Security Branch is ipso facto a non-white. Black people real black peopleare those who can manage to hold their heads [Page 49 ] high in defiance rather than willingly surrender their souls to the white man. Briefly defined therefore, Black Consciousness is in essence the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their operationthe blackness of their skinand to operate as a group in order to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.

It seeks to demonstrate the lie that black is an aberration from the "normal" which is white. It is a manifestation of a new realisation that by seeking to run away from themselves and to emulate the white man, blacks are insulting the intelligence of whoever created them black. Black Consciousness therefore, takes cognizance of the deliberateness of God's plan in creating black people black. It seeks to infuse the black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life.

The interrelationship between the consciousness of the self and the emancipatory programme is of paramount importance. 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.

Such a major undertaking can only be realised in an atmosphere where people are convinced of the truth inherent in their stand. Liberation therefore, is of paramount importance in the concept of Black Consciousness, for we cannot be conscious of ourselves and yet remain in bondage.

We want to attain the envisioned self which is a free self. The surge towards Black Consciousness is a phenomenon that has manifested itself through out the so-called Third World. There is no doubt that discrimination against the black man the world over fetches its origin from the exploitative attitude of the white man. Colonisation of white countries by whites has throughout history resulted in nothing more sinister than mere cultural or geographical fusion at worst, or language bastardisation at best.

It is true that the history of weaker nations is shaped by bigger nations, but nowhere in the world today do we see whites exploiting whites on a scale even remotely similar to what is happening in South Africa.

RUTHE from Mississippi
Also read my other articles. I have only one hobby: film memorabilia. I relish studying docunments shrilly .