Biko – Donald Woods

I heard a lot about Steve Biko growing up. I had never imagined him being so young when he was murdered (only 30 years old) because of all he had achieved and how inspirational he was, and still is.

This is perhaps the first biography I have read which was written by a friend of the subject. Donald Wood is a very courageous white South African who became one of Biko’s closest friend and was subsequently involved in South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid. What I admired about Wood was the fact that he was quite transparent about his previously racist views (I guess he was a product of his environment). I may be being a bit idealistic but it gave me some hope at least that racist people can change with some education and dialogue.

The book basically outlines Biko’s life. The excerpts of conversation, including the articles Biko published and the court transcripts of his trial, show an exceptionally intelligent, strong-willed person, with passion for equality.

All Steve Biko wanted was to make his fellow oppressed black South Africans proud of their origins, thus he founded an organization that preached Black Consciousness: “The philosophy of Black Consciousness, therefore, expressed group pride and the determination by blacks to rise and attain the envisaged self.” It doesn’t sound so bad but unfortunately his views made him a “banned person” (ridiculous term), which means he was not allowed to move freely around the country. He was placed under surveillance,arrested, and his phonecalls were monitored too. I have to mention that the South African police were extremely childish in how they dealt with Biko and his family at times, unbelievable.

The ending of his life was just so tragic, the pictures in the book have unfortunately been ingrained into my memory. May Steve Biko rest in peace.



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