Steve Biko sharing a light moment with Mamphela Ramphele, circa 1970.

This September 12, activists all over the world in general and South African activists, in particular, celebrated the 41st death anniversary of Steve Biko. Bantu Stephen Biko, widely known as Steve Biko was born on Dec. 18, 1946, in King William’s Town, South Africa. Biko was the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement. Discontent over the racial segregation that was widespread when he was coming of age, In 1968, Biko co-founded the all-black South African Students’ Organization (SASO) in 1968. He was the first president of the group. The organisation was based on Biko’s understanding of the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. Biko famously said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

SASO, under Biko’s guidance, encouraged people to recognise their self-worth and dignity. The movement spread quickly from university campuses to urban communities in South Africa. African activist underscores Biko’s contribution by arguing, “He championed mental freedom, but more importantly dealt with fear, which enabled hundreds of thousands of young people to confront the brutal apartheid system with nothing but sheer courage.”

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

–Desmond Tutu