During this entire month the question on everyone’s lips has been whether the slain mental liberation and freedom fighter Steve Biko died in vain 30 years ago. Everyone has a different answer depending on his or her observations. What has emerged though is that most of us confuse mental liberation with the right to education. We think that just because we are now allowed to converse and school with white people the purpose has been achieved. Guess what, you’ve been fooled. Being conscious of who you are has nothing to do with your privileges. What the movement was intended to do was to eradicate the “sorry” attitude that most natives have.
There have been physical privileges that came with the success of democracy over apartheid but the biggest burden of them all is yet to be overcome. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you become, it is only until you acknowledge who you are and decide if you love yourself and want to succeed that you can reach a state of total freedom. It may be argued that being free to choose where you want to live is more important than being free to know that you are a native or black as you have been classified. But then again one may ask, what is so important about this mental liberation that Steve Biko and others died for. Why would your enemy resort to killing just so you aren’t educated and taught about self-definition? What Steve Biko’s foundation, the Black Consciousness Movement aimed to do, is yet to be achieved. It is only when natives know and practice the foretold knowledge about their pride as a people that the BCM can let Biko rest in peace.
Through careful observations it has been concluded that the more educated the black man gets, the more ignorant he becomes. Just because the old man down the road is uneducated, that doesn’t mean he can’t offer his advice. When he alerts you of the dangers of spinning your car, you flaunt your car keys on his face and ask if he knows the value of your car. Biko did warn us of this, that we might just be of the notion that we are superior to our parents because of the little “knowledge” we acquire in classrooms.
The white man has elevated you to another level of colonialism and this time he calls you a “black diamond.” You also proudly embrace this new term by accompanying it with the destructive behavior that it’s termed to represent. Then you ask, what would Biko have done, he could have made the effort of finding out what the value of this “black diamond” is because after all is knowledge is power. The term originated from a research conducted in the University of Cape Town’s Unilever Strategic Marketing Department. They were trying to figure out how best to sell their product to the new blooming wealthier black middle class. The black diamond is in principle a marketing stunt that you hopelessly fell for. The real black diamond from which this term has been derived is a mineral that has not much market value.
Steve Biko understood the cause and he headed the call. It is up to you how you want to be remembered. When marking his death we evaluate the extend up to which his cause has either progressed or failed. We cannot say that he failed but that we failed him. He educated and equipped us with knowledge and we decided to put it on ice until the anniversary of his death. Free your soul from the clutches of the oppressor and free your mind from the limitations you have set for yourself. Stop waiting for others to justify your success and categorize you according to your achievements. You are worth more than that as a person and more as an African.
From the land of the free: Theto Mahlakoana