STEVE Biko, the leader of South Africa’s Black Consciousness movement who died in 1977, was today commemorated by Google with a Doodle to mark what would have been his 70th birthday.
“On the 70th anniversary of Biko’s birth, we remember his courage and the important legacy he left behind. Thank you, Steve Biko, for dedicating your life to the pursuit of equality for all,” Google said.
Born on December 18 1946 and third in a family of four children, Biko grew up during one of the harshest epochs of apartheid rule in South Africa.
He was educated at Lovedale, a boarding school in Alice, Eastern Cape, before graduating from St Francis College, Roman Catholic institution in Mariannhill, Natal. He was expelled from Lovedale for his political activities and was instrumental in the creation of the South African Students Organisation (SASO) which eventually became the Black Consciousness Movement.
He started a medical degree at the non European section of the University of Natal, but was once again expelled due to his political activism. In February 1973 Biko was banned from addressing any public gathering or even speaking to more than one person at a time.
However, he continued organising protests until his fateful arrest and death at the hands of the apartheid regime.
Biko’s legendary status in the history of the struggle against apartheid stems mainly from his political philosophy. He challenged white supremacist doctrine by erecting a black consciousness platform which infused his followers with a self belief in their own intelligence and capabilities.
Slogans such as “black is beautiful,” became the banner of Biko’s movement and his book, “I write what I like,” in which he espoused the equality of races made him a thorn in the flesh of the apartheid system.
Biko was arrested at a police road block in August 1977 and held under South Africa’s notorious terrorism laws. He died shortly after being transferred to the Pretoria prison the following month, after he had been brutally tortured by the police in a cell.
Biko’s funeral was attended by more than 10,000 people including diplomats from the United States and Europe.