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« lunch like a queen | Main | sweet sixteen »

10 December 2013


Ah, Steve Biko, eons ago, in grad school in Ohio, we went to see Peter Gabriel in Ann Arbor, or maybe Cleveland. He sang that anthem about Biko as his encore and as young people around me held their cigarette lighters high, the girl next to me turned and asked who Biko was. I was shocked. Even at 22 that was so ingrained in my political consciousness And I forgot there was a world of people who never knew, not because they were stupid but because it was a different time where Mandela was still in prison and where Thatcher still supported the apartheid regime and where no one believed that South Africa would ever emerge from that. I think at the time Biko was killed around 25 black African men were being hanged in South African prisons every week. It's still sobering.

Biko wrote tirelessly, with a young person's zeal, about that kind of oppression, about how the whole land was hypnotized by minority rule. Apartheid was the terrorist organization; of course Mandela used violence against it (!) & he was not alone. Black Consciousness would have gotten around to some violence, but so would have Ghandi, when you read what he wrote.

To me, Mandela was a shrewd politician & let us truly marvel when we look at all he accomplished in his long, long life. Not least of which is that he stayed alive until he died.

Biko was a revolutionary & he didn't cool his heels in prison for one minute, I don't think. South Africa could not possibly leave him alive. But the loss of his clarity, and his mind, it's too much.

Also, yk, there was a major motion picture just 10 yrs after Biko was killed. I'm the only simple midwestern girl who could find a library? Whatever, Ohio.

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