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Steve Biko

(1946—1977) South African radical leader


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(b. 18 Dec. 1946, d. 12 Sept. 1977).

South African political activist In 1965 he won a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Natal (Durban) and soon became involved in the multiracial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). He came to believe that effective resistance to the apartheid regime could only come under Black leadership in Black organizations. He founded the Black South African Students Organization in 1969, whose first president he became. Under the influence of the US Black Consciousness movement, he developed the theory that Blacks had to become conscious of their own identity as a precondition for political emancipation. A brilliant and charismatic speaker, the rhetoric he employed was radical and, at times, violent. At the same time, his actual programme was relatively liberal. Thus, he derived most of his following from educated circles of the Coloureds (mixed race) and Blacks, but failed to extend his support to the Black townships. He left university in 1972, and in 1973 the South African government confined his freedom of movement to his native King William's Town. Arrested several times (1976–7) he was arrested on 19 August 1977 for moving outside his restricted area. He died from a brain haemorrhage and other injuries caused by police brutality while in police custody.

Subjects: African Studies — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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