35 years on, Steve Biko’s legacy is more relevant than ever
Today marks 35 years since the death of Steve Biko, killed in 1977, in one of the most brutal crimes of the apartheid regime.
Although I never met him, Steve Biko’s death was a turning point in my own life and his ideas and philosophical approach continue to inform my thinking today. Yesterday I had the privilege to undertake a private visit to the cell at the Walmer Police Station in Port Elizabeth, to pay tribute to Steve Biko in the last place where he was detained before his death after a brutal beating and torture during interrogation by the security police.
Biko’s singular contribution was his concept of “psychological liberation”, the need to free one’s mind from a sense of inferiority (or superiority) in order to create an equal and non-racial society. Psychological liberation was the first hurdle South Africans would have to overcome in the struggle for freedom and justice. His vision was of a society in which confident people, empowered with education, opportunity and equal rights, could become the architects of their own destiny and build one nation.
As we commemorate his tragically premature death, it is worth recalling the most famous phrase attributed to him: “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
Apartheid is dead. Biko’s ideas live on. It is incumbent on us to ensure that they are a beacon on the road to a genuine and sustainable democracy and genuine liberation.
Statement issued by DA leader Helen Zille, September 12 2012