Steve Bantu Biko would have turned 70 yesterday, but the teachings of the Black Consciousness Movement, the heart of his legacy, are under threat of becoming extinct, says Mosibudi Mangena, honorary president of the Azanian People’s Organisation – a position previously held by Biko.
“Steve, like many of us, taught that black people should dust off the denigration of the past and the social degradation of the past, the humiliation of the past and we should stand very proud of who we are and our capabilities.”
A quote from Biko’s famous essay, Black Consciousness and the Quest for a True Humanity, reads: “We have set off on a quest for true humanity, and somewhere on the distant horizon we can see the glittering prize.
“Let us march forth with courage and determination, drawing strength from our common plight and brotherhood. In time, we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible – a more human face.”
However, Mangena said, this is not apparent. Referring to black communities’ loss of faith in schools and institutions of higher education, he said: “We see the opposite. It starts with small things. It seems as though we can’t teach our own children, they are running away from us. “
Mangena also cited lack of excellence displayed by blacks in prominent positions.
Regarding events behind Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s resignation, he said: “You see a whole lot of black figures in the public domain who apparently are supposed to be doing good things and one after the other they are falling like dominoes.
“You see someone who is seen to have rescued us in terms of power cuts and it turns out that, while he looks very respectable, something else appears.
“There are many examples, like in the SABC, and I can imagine if young people are watching these people leading this large institution all coming out to say incredibly stupid things that does not put us in very good standing as a people.
“In as far as teaching black consciousness goes, we are not doing very well as a people.”