Two interesing and not unrelated blog posts to mark the 34th anniversary of Steve Biko‘ death. In the first Khadija Patel interviews Andile Mngxitama, South African Black consciousness activists and co-editor of “Biko Lives!” – the mistake is to have believed he died on that day 34 years ago. It is much harder to kill an idea than a person as Andile points out.
“Steve Biko… we say Biko lives. Steve Biko lives,” insists Mngxitama, “The biggest mistake of the apartheid regime was to think they could kill him and his ideas.” Mngxitama believes Biko himself understood the need for longevity in his ideas when he wrote, “It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die.” Steve Biko is certainly more than a T-shirt. His were ideas that galvanised the struggle against the apartheid and a realisation of self-worth among black people themselves.
“Today we see young people outside of the political formation trying to read and understand Biko, try to make sense of Steve Biko in a country which remains basically anti-black. So, from this point of view, it is very clear that Biko lives,” – Read the full interview here
The second post is less an idea and more a reality is a speech given by Abhalali baseMjondolo President, S’bu Zikode on the progress of post-apartheid south Africa. [A discussion between Zikode and Andile would be an interesting one and I wonder why this has not happened to date especially since Abhalali is a breathing revolution] Much of what Zikode speaks confirms Andile’s comment that South Africa is anti-black – “a white country under black management”
Land has not been fairly redistributed. The economy continues to exclude and to exploit. Millions are without work and millions are working but still poor and without security. Most of the land and the economy remains in the hands of rich whites. They have been joined by some rich blacks but the poor, the majority, remain locked out. The great change we have seen over the past seventeen years has been the change from a white government to a black government but this black government is not a government of the people. It is led by a few wealthy individuals who continue to enrich themselves in the name of democracy. Corruption in governance has become the norm. Politics has become a new economic path and a career for the young members of the ruling party. Politics means access to tenders, access to wealth and control. Politics is not about serving the people.
We had thought that the new government would replace a system of exclusion and inequality with a just society. But what they have actually done is to simply take their place in that system of exclusion and inequality. They have not tried to transform that system. We are told that now that the system is under black management we are free. We have refused to accept this. When the government celebrates Freedom Day in the stadiums every year we mourn unFreedom Day in the shacks.