The Intellectual Legacy of Stephen Bantu Biko (1946-1977)

Acta Academica 24 (1992)
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In this essay I will attempt to explain the significance of Stephen Bantu Biko's life. This I will do in terms of his intellectual contribution to the liberation of black people from the radically unjust apartheid society in South Africa. Firstly, I will discuss his contribution to liberate blacks psychologically from the political system of apartheid, pointing out how he broke through the normative and pragmatic acceptance of the situation in the radically unjust apartheid society. He experienced black people as being defeated people, and he wanted to direct their attention to the fact that the cause of their unjust situation was other human beings and thus they could change it. Secondly, I point out how he gave black people a new self-understanding and self worth. One way of doing this was by means of community projects which fostered self-reliance. For Biko it was important that black people should act autonomously, and not let other people make decisions on their behalf. They also had to re-evaluate their cultural heritage to discover the positive aspects thereof. Lastly, I focus on his views on his ideal for a future just South Africa and show how important he regarded dialogue as a political tool.
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