Steven Bantu Biko Month – September

Steve Biko was one of South Africa’s most significant political activists and a leading founder of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement. His death in police detention in 1977 led to his being hailed as a martyr of the anti-Apartheid struggle.
Date of birth: 18 December 1946, King William’s Town, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Date of death: 12 September 1977, Pretoria prison cell, South Africa
In 1972 Biko was one of the founders of the Black Peoples Convention (BPC) working on social upliftment projects around Durban. The BPC effectively brought together roughly 70 different black consciousness groups and associations, such as the South African Student’s Movement (SASM), which played a significant role in the 1976 uprisings, the National Association of Youth Organisations, and the Black Workers Project which supported black workers whose unions were not recognized under the Apartheid regime. Biko was elected as the first president of the BPC and was promptly expelled from medical school. He started working full time for the Black Community Programme (BCP) in Durban which he also helped found.
Biko was detained and interrogated four times between August 1975 and September 1977 under Apartheid era anti-terrorism legislation. On 21 August 1977 Biko was detained by the Eastern Cape security police and held in Port Elizabeth. From the Walmer police cells he was taken for interrogation at the security police headquarters. On 7 September “Biko sustained a head injury during interrogation, after which he acted strangely and was uncooperative. The doctors who examined him (naked, lying on a mat and manacled to a metal grille) initially disregarded overt signs of neurological injury.”

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