1976 - 2011

Steve Biko: Legacy

Steve Biko Foundation

“In Sesotho there is a saying 'motjheka sediba ha a se nwe' ('he who digs a well does not drink from it'). Only those who come after him will quench their thirst from its cool water. When the forebears formulated this adage, they had Steve Bantu Biko in mind, even as he sat in the world of pre-creation waiting to be created”
- Zakes Mda 

Today, the legacy of Steve Biko lives on through the work of a number of institutions in South Africa and the international community.  Among them are the Steve Biko Foundation; The Brazilian Steve Biko Cultural Institute as well as the Liverpool England based Steve Biko housing association. In the tradition of Biko these institutions focus not only on material issues such as housing, education and healthcare; seeking to achieve Biko’s vision of a more human face, they also focus on issues of history, culture and identity

Steve Biko Housing Association, Original Source: Steve Biko Housing Association
Steve Biko Cultural Institute, Original Source: Steve Biko Cultural Institute
Mrs. Ntsiki Biko and George Bizos, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
30 years after the death of Steve Biko , Mrs Ntsiki Biko and Adv. George Bizos attend the opening of the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics  at the University of Witwatersrand , Johannesburg
A 1980 song written by Peter Gabriel to commemorate the late anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko

Steve Biko is also commemorated annually through the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, a programme of SBF facilitated in association with the University of Cape Town.  In its 13th year, the lecture has been delivered by some of 21st century's foremost thought leaders.

" Like all social processes, the African reawakening is a messy yet creative development, far from being subject to a body of predictive rules and regulations, nor is it reducible to a political programme."

- Njabulo Ndebele, 1st Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2000

Njabulo Ndebele, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Professor Njabulo Ndebele and Mr. Nkosinathi Biko, SBF CEO

"An investment in Biko's children is an investment in the future of South Africa, for they will not desert this country. It is their heritage" 

- Zakes Mda, 2nd Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture - 12 September 2001

Portrait of Zakes Mda, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Professor Zakes Mda

"A young man with a sharp intellect and a flair for organisation and leadership, Biko realised the need to raise the sagging morale of black people, to raise their consciousness and self-esteem; in his own words to ‘overcome the psychological oppression of black people by whites.’ "

– Chinua Achebe, 3rd Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2002

Portrait of Chinua Achebe, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Professor Chinua Achebe

"Steve Biko, whom we have come to honour, is among this great gallery of people whose work and devotion have impacted those beyond the native shores, and which make it possible for us even to talk about the possibilities of a new Africa out of the colonial ashes of latter-day empires."

 – Ngugi wa Thiong’o, 4th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2003

Portrait of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o

"And as we now increasingly speak of and work for an African Renaissance, the life, work, words, thoughts and example of Steve Biko assume a relevance and resonance as strong as in the time that he lived. His revolution had a simple but overwhelmingly powerful dimension in which it played itself out – that of radically changing the consciousness of people. The African Renaissance calls for and is situated in exactly such a fundamental change of consciousness: consciousness of ourselves, our place in the world, our capacity to shape history, and our relationship with each other and the rest of humanity."

- Nelson Mandela, 5th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 10 September 2004

Portrait of Nelson Mandela, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
President Nelson Mandela

"Bantu Stephen Biko’s key contribution to the freedom we enjoy today is in freeing us from the fear of death, thus allowing to become fully what we were created to be – agents of our own history. "

– Mamphela Ramephele, 6th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2005

Portrait of Mamphela Ramphele, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Dr. Mamphela Ramphele

"It is amazing to think that Steve did not have much time to propagate his teachings and in way, by rights, should have disappeared into oblivion...He didn’t have a flashy car or a big house. He lived in a ghetto township. He did not even have a university degree and by rights, should have been consigned to the oblivion reserved for all non-entities. But what his the reality?”

- Desmond Tutu, 7th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 26 September 2006

Portrait of Desmond Tutu, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

"Steve Biko understood that to attain our freedom we had to rebel against the notion that we are a problem, that we should no longer merely cry out: Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine house?; That we should stop looking at ourselves through the eyes of others, and measuring our souls by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. "

– Thabo Mbeki, 8th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2007

Portrait of Thabo Mbeki, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
President Thabo Mbeki

“Biko’s writings speak less of his attitude towards the racist governors than it does aboutthe psychology and consciousness of the oppressed. He understood then as we mustnow, that the consciousness of the poor, and their active participation as agents of change in their own lives is the key to democratic transformation. For these beliefs, Bikogave his life in the name of freedom and democracy. For this, we owe him a debt ofgratitude and he certainly deserves his rightful place in our collective memories.” 

- Trevor Manuel, 9th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 11 September 2008

Portrait of Trevor Manuel, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Minister Trevor Manuel 

“Having been willing to give everything for the ideal of a democratic society, Steve Biko would have observed the progress of the country since democracy was introduced in 1994 with the greatest interest.  In fact, he would have done more than that:  he would certainly have been leading rather than observing, shaping events rather than being shaped by them.” 

-Tito Mboweni, 10th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 10 September 2009

Picture of Tito Mboweni, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Mr. Nkosinathi Biko, SBF CEO & Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni

One of the things I began to understand about oppression as I worked on this issue was how the oppressor – whoever it is – will happily steal everything we have, but they will leave us our self-inflicted suffering. They will leave us; gladly leave us, our scars. And then they will help others define us by the wounds and scars we give ourselves...Steve Biko is known as the Father of Black Consciousness in South Africa. He taught that black people must investigate and validate their own existence, irrespective of other people’s opinions of them; that they must see themselves in the warm light of their own genius - the unique gift that they come into the world carrying to deliver to all of human kind; that they must have faith that they are made perfectly for the singular expression of the divine that they are. This is why one reveres Steve Biko.Because, in short, he fully understood that the foundation of any true liberation, any true liberation, is self-love.

- Alice Walker, 11th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2010

Alice Walker, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Professor Alice Walker

"After the inquest I read some of his writings.  I have recently re-read some of them.  Even today, over thirty years on, in a radically changed society, their power is extraordinary.  You find in them a combination of eloquence, insight, political passion and political pragmatism."

- Sir Sydney Kentridge , 12th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture, 12 September 2011

Picture of Sydney Kentridge, From the collection of: Steve Biko Foundation
Sir Sydney Kentridge
Credits: Story

Steve Biko Foundation:
Nkosinathi Biko, CEO
Y. Obenewa Amponsah, Director International Partnerships
Donna Hirschson, Intern
S. Dibuseng Kolisang, Communications Officer
Ardon Bar-Hama
Marie Human

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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