Bantu Stephen Biko - South African writer, anti-apartheid activist and "Father of the Black Consciousness Movement" - would have turned 70 Sunday. Murdered in detention at age 30, he continues to be honored for his fight for racial equality by a foundation, cultural center, online archive, two biographies and, for his birthday, Google. Above all, Biko stood for peaceful reconciliation of all. In rare video, he explains he sought not majority or minority rights, but a non-racist society where "there shall just be people."
Another one of my personal heros.
Teaching me about courage and fortitude in the face of extreme adversity.
A good Biko essay that addresses the complexity of the issues and still has important things to say about white liberals today, is here:
"I Write What I Like" - a collection of Biko's essays is a treasure. Writing with nome de plume of Frank Talk, I keep one opening observation above my desk:
"It is perhaps fitting to start by examining why it is necssary for us think collectively about a problem we never created. In doing so, I do not wish to concern myself unnecessarily with the white people of South Africa, but to get to the right answers, we must ask the right questions; we have to find out what went wrong - where and when; and we have to find out whether our position is a deliberate creation of God or an artificial fabrication of the truth by power-hungry people whose motive is authority, security, wealth and comfort. (...)"
It is perhaps fitting that while driving my daughter into town on Sunday my music shuffle turned to the gem of a tribute song by Peter Gabriel simply named 'Biko'. She asked me to turn it up, and it was my chance to tell her the story of this man and his situation in South Africa as it played in the background. Then we got to replay it. I am thankful to Mr Gabriel as well and felt he should have received honorable mention for applying his talents so that Stephen Biko's story was retold in song, and he will be remembered for his sacrifices.