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Biko, Stephen Bantu (1946–1977)

Moemedi Kepadisa

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics apartheid, bibliography, civil rights, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00207.x


Stephen Bantu Biko must loom large in the pantheon of national liberation heroes globally. Steve, as he was known to his friends and comrades, was a founder of and a foremost thinker in the Black Consciousness (BC) movement that emerged in South Africa during the struggle against apartheid in the 1960s and 1970s. Biko died in police custody in 1977. Biko was born on December 18, 1946 in King Williamstown, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He was the third of four children to Mzimgayi and Nokusola “Mamcethe” Biko. His father was a clerk for the police service, who was studying law before his death in 1950, and his mother, a hospital worker, was an active community and church member. Steve's elder brother, Khaya, was an activist in the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), which advocated a separatist Africanism: Khaya has been credited with shaping Steve's political mind from a young age. Starting his education around 1952 – against the backdrop of the introduction of the controversial and discriminatory Bantu Education Act – Biko attended several schools, including Brownlee Primary, Charles Morgan Higher Primary, and the Lovedale College. In 1963, when Khaya and Steve were at Lovedale, Khaya was detained by the police for nine months for suspected involvement in the PAC's armed wing, Poqo (“We, Alone”), formed in 1961. Steve himself was arrested and questioned, following which ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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