Probably the most iconic figure in terms of the Anti-Apartheid movement other than the iconic Nelson Mandela was Steve Biko.
A student leader who went on to found the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) which empowered and mobilized much of South Africa’s urban black population, he died in police custody and has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement.
While was alive, his writings and activism had the goal of empowering black people. He was famous for his slogan “black is beautiful”, which he described as meaning: “man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being”.
Biko was never a member of the African National Congress (ANC), but the ANC nonetheless included him in the pantheon of struggle heroes, going so far as to use his image in campaign posters in South Africa’s first non-racial elections in 1994. Nelson Mandela said of Biko:
“They had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid.”
Yesterday Google remembered his birthday December 18th and his portrait was on their search page.
Coincidentally in a bizarre juxtaposition the Manx Radio news magazine programme noted for subjects that can sometimes be a bit ‘of the wall’ ran a feature on Phillip Moore a Manxman who lived in South Africa all his life and was a prominent politician for much of the Apartheid era albeit a member of the opposition United Party. Apparently a collection of Moore’s letters has been published.
The programme said of Moore that he was one of a number of Manxman that went out to Southern Africa to seek their fortune. (Here’s a link to an item about him):
I see it differently from the late Nineteenth century quite a few Manxman went out to Africa as with other Europeans to exploit it. That exploitation to a certain extent goes on to this day only the Europeans are joined by other global predators from China, the US and Russia.
No doubt some will see Moore and others as having made a contribution to South Africa it’s said he was the architect of the currency the Rand.
I see it differently I see Moore and all the other adventurer from the UK, Mann and elsewhere as colonialists standing in the way of freedom for the continent – a freedom that has now come thankfully.
Give me Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela any day they are people worth remembering!
Image: Steve Biko.
Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch
Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.