Steve Biko (1946 – 1977)
Born in a Black township in a politically active family, Steve Biko himself was very active from an early age. Although he was expelled from school, he went on to study medicine at the University of Durban, which had a section for non-Europeans. This university was the first to combine students from mixed militant organizations, and it was home to both White and Black who shared in the same quest for justice.
Steve Biko was convinced that Blacks had to unite and not rely on help from Whites to achieve their emancipation and equality. He founded the Black-member-only South African Students Organization (SASO). He wanted Whites to stop believing they were superior and Blacks to stop believing they were inferior. His actions were non-violent and directed at educating people.
The influential and charismatic leader was arrested on August 8, 1977. In prison, he was tortured and beaten. He died from this mistreatment on September 11, 1977. His death alerted the global community and measures were taken against South Africa in retaliation against apartheid.
Author: Marianne Giguère