The South African apartheid ground the African people under the heels of white men. For nearly fifty years, the black population was forced by law to remain apart and downtrodden; to see themselves as less than the white man. In spite of such indoctrination, adversity forged incredible men and women. Bantu Steve Biko was one of these, a catalyst that helped end apartheid. He became a strong leader through his open-mindedness, informed leadership, and his ability to sacrifice for the cause. Without men like Biko, apartheid might have lasted far longer.
Steve Biko was born in King William’s Town, South Africa on Dec. 18, 1946 to Mathew Mzingaye and Alice Biko. Mathew was a kind man and father. He had strong morals which he passed onto Steve and his other children. Mathew stressed education was of utmost importance, that an education would be their key to “upward social movement and independence.” (South Africa History Online). In alignment with Mathew’s teachings, Steve Biko went through elementary and part of secondary school, studying hard and exploring his interests. During high school, however, he grew deeply involved in youth political groups, chafing at the government-enforced propaganda taught to every black student—that their race was inferior and they were never meant to aspire to higher callings, hard labor would be their lives. Indignant at the abuse of his people, Biko pushed back. Shortly afterwards, he was expelled from high school. He enrolled in a medical program at a local university in the hopes of becoming more than what the whites had envisioned for him. But political groups were still too much of a draw. Biko found himself missing classes to participate in protests and meetings for the black cause. He began to think more broadly than his simple hate for authority and rules, embracing the morality of the issue. Months passed, and Biko faced a choice—either become a doctor and keep taking classes, or push further into activism. Luckily for South Africa, he chose activism.
In the 1960s, the government had disbanded most black rights groups, but in the late 1970s, youth groups were still allowed. Biko had a plan. He would approach the problem beginning with his peers, college students, and with a new kind of core mission. His essential idea was that there must not merely be advocacy for black rights, but that new laws must be founded on the fact that the vast majority of the South African population is black. People must have pride in who and what they are as individuals and as a people, and they are the full equal of white men. This philosophy came to be known as the Black Consciousness Movement. This was revolutionary for the downtrodden South Africans. Biko started SASO, South African Students’ Association, and spread the movement far and wide throughout the country.
At this point, Biko was undeniably heavily involved in politics and leadership, particularly leadership of youth groups. He wasn’t a blunt,...