Steve Biko

by Erez, Breanna, Ana and Kendra of North Eugene High School


Apartheid in South Africa began in the 1940’s. It started out as the determination to separate racial groups in South Africa, and was created by the National Party Government. The Population Registration Act of 1950 required all citizens of South Africa to be classified into categories according to their race. The categories established were white, black, and coloured (this was people of mixed decent). This was the initial start of the oppression. The main question was how could settlers come in and take over, as there were plenty more blacks to out rule the whites? As we see it, the support the whites had behind them was power of being worth more than the blacks. This “power” came from the whites past of being wealthier, but also the belief that the blacks didn’t know how to handle the situation as the whites soon brought behind them disease and violence.

Bantu Stephen Biko was born in King Williams’s town, Cape Province, South Africa on December 18th, 1946. He was the third child of Mr. and Mrs. Mzimgayi. Biko was raised as a Christian. His secondary school was done at Marian Hill Secondary School in Kwazulu. Later he became a student at Wentworth, a white medical school in Durban. After going to medical school and seeing the white domination in the schools and seeing how they failed to represent the needs of the black students, Steve formed the SASO (South African Students’ Organization) in 1968, an activist group seeking equality for all black people in South Africa. He gave up what could have been a comfortable life as a doctor to selflessly work in the liberation of his people. Biko was always the target of the “system” in his short, but remarkable political life. He helped create and became the leader of the BPC (Black People’s Convention). He was always harassed and detained under the country’s security legislation. On August 18th, 1977, he was arrested at a street roadblock with a colleague under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act. Biko’s detention interrupted his quest for a true humanity. His quest for black unity eventually cost him his life. He died at the hands of one of the most repressive and savage regimes known to human kind on September 12th, 1977, on the floor of an empty cell in Pretoria Central Prison. The police claimed it was from natural causes, but Steve had multiple wounds to the head.

Steve Biko strongly believed in the idea of a non-violent way to end Apartheid in South Africa, and to have the whites return to their original homes. He was strongly influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and the way he stood up for Indian rights in a non-violent way, and by Martin Luther King Jr. with his non-violent attempt to end segregation in the United States. Steve Biko also believed that blacks could support themselves and live in a world without whites, and so, he started the Black Consciousness Group, which was a group that believed in black pride. He then started the Black Peoples Convention in 1972, which was a political front for the Black Consciousness Group and consisted of only blacks, all whites were excluded.

From the beginning Steve Biko had always found Anti – Apartheid interesting. He had a high appreciation toward groups and pollutions/politics. Biko, after going to a medical school, was involved with (NUSAS) National Union Of South African students. Steve himself worked on the social uplift project for the students around the Durban area. Unfortunately in 1973 the apartheid government banned Steve Biko. He was arrested and restricted to his house, but that did not stop him from helping out. He wanted to help the families of the blacks that were arrested and thrown in jail, and so, Biko set up a Zimele Trust Find, which helped support political prisoners and their families.

Chokshi, Monal. "The History of Apartheid in South Africa." Web. 16 Feb. 2010. .

“Steve Biko Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Book Rags, Wed. 16 Feb. 2010.>.

Boddy-Evans, Alistair. “African History.” Manmillan, Mar. 1999. Wed. 17 Feb. 2010. .

Page created on 3/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links - Steve Biko's bibliography.