BIKO by Donald Woods - Rebecca Fjelland Davis
Stephen (Steve) Bantu Biko was a popular voice of Black liberation in South Donald Woods, the editor of the East London based Daily Despatch, was Woods to meet with Steve so the latter could explain the philosophy. Donald James Woods, CBE (15 December – 19 August ) was a South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist. As editor of the Daily Dispatch, he was known for befriending fellow activist Steve Biko, berated Woods for writing misleading stories about the movement, challenging him to meet with Biko. Articulate and charismatic, Steve Biko was one of the movement's foremost instigators and prolific They did this first by targeting the mind of black people in South Africa. At a National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) meeting held in .. He also famously befriended Donald Woods, the white East London Daily.
When his own family came under attack, they finally escaped the country with the manuscript of this book, narrowly escaping being killed.
It was made into the movie Cry Freedom in the late s, both while apartheid was still in practice. Steve Biko became an international icon and helped move the world to sanctions against South Africa until the apartheid system changed. That transformation can affect a reader or watcher perhaps more powerfully. A wrong flick of a computer key, and the entire thing disappeared. I had several more quotes in the original version, but this recreation captures the main ideas I wanted to convey.
Reading this book, walking through King Williams Town and Port Elizabeth where Steve walked, standing at his grave and spending time in the Steve Biko Museum all build into an emotional experience. Steve Biko is, and will forever be, one of the heroes of my life.
The photographs were later published in Woods's book, exposing the South African government's cover-up of the cause of Biko's death. Life in exile[ edit ] Tele Bridge border post from the South African side Soon after Biko's death, Woods was himself placed under a five-year ban.
He was stripped of his editorship, and was not allowed to speak publicly, write, travel or even work for the duration of his ban. Over the next year, he was subjected to increasing harassment, and his phone was tapped. The final straw came when his six-year-old daughter was severely burned by a T-shirt laced with ninhydrin. Disguised as an Anglican priest, Father "David C.
However, following days of steady rain, the river had flooded, leaving him to resort to crossing at the Tele Bridge border crossing in a Lesotho Postal Service truck driven by an unsuspecting Lesothan man, who was merely giving the "priest" a ride. He made it undetected by South African customs and border officials to Lesothowhere, prompted by a prearranged telephone call, his family joined him shortly afterwards.
Once they arrived in Lesotho, Bruce Haighan Australian diplomat of the embassy, drove him to Maseru. With the help of the British High Commission in Maseru and from the Government of Lesothothey flew under United Nations passports and with one Lesotho Government official over South African airspace, via Botswana to London where they were granted political asylum.
He toured the United States campaigning for sanctions against apartheid. The trip included a three-hour session, arranged by President Jimmy Carterto address officials in the U. Woods also spoke at a session of the United Nations Security Council in On 11 FebruaryNelson Mandela was released from prison after serving twenty-seven years in prison, 17 of those years on Robben Island.
That Easter, Mandela came to London to attend a concert at Wembley Stadium to thank the anti-apartheid Movement and the British people for their years of campaigning against apartheid. Woods gave Mandela a tie in the black, green and gold colours of the African National Congress to celebrate the event, which Mandela wore at the concert the next day. His son Dillon was one of the organizers of the fundraising appeal in the United Kingdom. A cheering crowd took him to the head of the queue, giving him the place of honour so that he could be one of the first to vote in the new South Africa.
Following the election, Woods worked for the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg. Donald and Wendy Woods became very much involved in the project, working closely with the actors and crew. The film was shot largely on location in Zimbabwe South Africa still being under the apartheid regime at the time.
It was released in to critical acclaim, and won a number of awards. SASO came to strongly reject the participation of black South Africans in any apartheid institution that emphasized ethnic separation including the so-called African homelands. Second, Black Consciousness activists rejected white liberals whom they defined as any white person seeking to oppose apartheid.
Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History
They saw white leadership as an obstacle to black liberation because it stifled black leadership and psychological development. As black people understood fully the oppression they experienced firsthand, activists believed they had the insights and knowledge to know what needed to change. White leadership would hinder the development of a truly self-reliant, black society.
For many people, including white liberals, this came across as abrasive and startling. Some even accused SASO of promoting reverse racism. For others, it led to a refreshing, emboldened new consciousness. SASO began with a few black students who worked to recruit other students across black campuses. SASO students in these various universities traveled around trying to prompt a psychological change among blacks in a number of ways. From the beginning of SASO, students engaged in community work.
This began as a way to relieve the suffering of black people in poverty. Yet community projects were also seen as a way to uplift black communities psychologically as well as to improve black self-reliance. Each campus group ran projects in neighboring communities, such as volunteering in local clinics, helping to secure a clean water supply, and running education and literacy programs. The students learned from their experiences and drew upon the methodologies of Freire in particular to help them refine this work.
Asserting the right to speak was important for these activists and they claimed this right in the newsletter, along with other literary forms such as poems and plays. The newsletter also reported on various student meetings where students developed their thinking, debated strategies for the future, and discussed how to engage with the broader community.
So-called formation schools—weekend or holiday camps—served as training grounds where students debated societal issues and learned organizational strategies. Acutely aware of the politically hostile environment within which it worked, SASO made it a point to train a number of layers of leadership to ensure the organization would continue if state repression were to hit.
The clothes they wore, their demeanor when interacting with white people, and the music they listened to all portrayed confidence and pride in blackness. The young women involved in the Black Consciousness especially challenged the status quo with new styles by throwing away their skin-lightening creams and wigs and wearing their hair in natural Afros. They also wore bold styles in clothing that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable at the time, such as very tight pants.
Some even smoked cigarettes in public. Female activists had to excel at male ways of debating to gain an influence in SASO. The students also held parties where young women were treated more as objects of sexual desire. For some, this means that women had more conservative roles in the movement; however, some women did gain leadership in the movement, especially in community projects where they challenged conventional gender roles.
The Broader Movement Before the state took action to suppress Black Consciousness, its influence had expanded beyond university campuses. With the spread of ideas and expansion of organizations linked to Black Consciousness, what began as a student organization grew into a movement with a broad, diffused impact that can be difficult to generalize about or trace precisely.
Cultural Movement The movement had cultural dimensions, linked in varying degrees to formal organizations. Black Consciousness ideas resonated with poets and theater groups in particular. Some worked directly with SASO. Their plays, such as Black on White and Resurrection, examined what it meant to be black and oppressed in South Africa. Participants and playwrights such as Asha Rambally Moodley and Strinivasa Moodley joined Black Consciousness organizations, while others simply continued to use theater as a way to raise a critical awareness among black communities.
Poets such as Oswald Mtshali, Mongane Wally Serote, Don Mattera, Mafika Pascal Gwala, and James Matthews, among others, similarly dealt with black oppression and sought to inspire hope in black self-determination with positive images and themes of resistance and redemption.
Black Consciousness promoted music with black themes and origins and influenced the outlook and material in Sowetan literary magazines, such as The Classic, New Classic, and Staffrider. Ecumenical organizations, Christian activists, and Black Consciousness adherents all influenced each other. Activists worked closely with radical priests and ecumenical organizations, significantly putting these Christian ideals into action. The organization sought to coordinate among other agencies run by and in the black community and to conscientize black South Africans through publication projects that provided relevant news for black people and promoted a positive black identity.
The BCP eventually moved to run its own projects when activists working for the organization found themselves restricted to their home areas by banning orders in For example, it ran health clinics such as the Zanempilo Community Health Center in the Eastern Cape, managed cottage industries like the Njwaxa leatherwork factory also in the Eastern Cape, and opened resource centers at its regional offices.
It published a yearbook, Black Review. BCP publications encouraged black publishing in South Africa and became a trusted source of positive information in black communities. The BPC was launched in July and held its first national conference in December, where Winifred Kgware was elected as one its first president. The principal aim of the BPC was defined as fostering black political unity in the Black Consciousness sense in order to achieve psychological and physical liberation.
This included creating an egalitarian society, developing Black Theology, and condemning foreign countries working with the apartheid government, among other objectives. The BPC was the first black national political organization formed since and took a strong stance of non-participation in the apartheid system. Membership did not grow as rapidly or as widely as the BPC hoped. By the end ofthe BPC had forty-one branches. SASO and the BCP held youth leadership conferences or formation schools that engaged students in critical social analysis and taught organizational skills.
These meetings eventually led to the formation of regional youth organizations and the National Youth Organization NYO, formed in In Soweto, where student organizations had already been operating, SASO students and events in general helped spread Black Consciousness among high school students.
It was SASM that organized the June 16,Soweto student march against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction that led to widespread uprisings. The student uprisings ofalong with other adult leaders who became involved in running community programs in Soweto such as Ramsey Ramokgopa and Oshadi Mangenaare evidence of the way Black Consciousness ideas changed South African thinking among different groups of people in various corners of the country.
Aware of the way the state cracked down on resistance in the early s, SASO leaders deliberately avoided confrontation with the state in order to evade crippling state action. Still, activists took care to nurture leadership so that replacements were ready to fill in positions if the police detained people in leadership roles.TRC Episode 78, Part 02
Initially, the state saw the formation of an exclusively black student organization as fitting with apartheid. However, it soon understood that Black Consciousness undermined the whole philosophy behind apartheid and increasingly bore down on the movement and its leaders. Activists learned to outwit the police. Their youthful energy and audacity sustained their activity in this politically hostile environment. They also found hope in suffering at the hands of the state because they viewed it as a sacrifice that advanced South Africa closer to liberation.
The university expelled Tiro. This sparked a number of black student strikes across the country. This scattered activists throughout the country, although they found ways to continue their work. State repression of Black Consciousness activists intensified in the next few years, especially as activists took more overt action against the state.
A particularly important move in this direction was the pro-FRELIMO rallies held at the University of the North and in Durban in September to celebrate the liberation of a neighboring country from European colonialism and express their support for the people of Mozambique. The minister of justice declared the rallies illegal just before they were to take place. Police did indeed break up the rallies using some violence.
This led to further arrests and detentions of activists and a publicized court case that essentially put Black Consciousness on trial State v. Nine men were tried and convicted of encouraging racial hostility. Police harassment, detentions, and bannings spiked again after the student uprisings and continued into This took a toll on the lives of many activists. Detentions put a psychological strain on individuals and their families, and increasingly brutal torture inflicted physical damage.
Four Black Consciousness activists died between and as a result of the actions of South African security forces: