Full Text

Black Consciousness

Subject History

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


A movement in South Africa in reaction to white racism and white liberal paternalism. African students in their segregated universities, who were frustrated by white domination of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), broke away in 1969 to form the all-black South African Students’ Organisation (SASO). Its President from the medical school at the University of Natal was Steve Biko. Black Consciousness, with its emphasis on black pride and self- reliance, was strongly influenced by the American civil rights movement and black power and by the writings of Frantz Fanon and Leopold senghor . It followed the lead of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) in stressing that South Africa belonged to the blacks alone and in rejecting liberal and white-dominated organizations, but its economic and political programmes were vague: a belief in sharing wealth was combined with an acceptance of private property. Black Consciousness did not affect the working class or peasants and was criticized by the ANC for being too elitist and out of touch with the masses. It rejected the leaders of the bantustans and Inkatha as collaborators in white supremacy and when it greatly influenced the Soweto riots of 1976 the South African government decided to destroy it. All Black Consciousness organizations were banned and their leaders persecuted, Biko being tortured and killed in 1977. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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