We must never for­get the brainy man from Gins­berg – Bantu Stephen Biko

Cape Times - - INSIGHT - Sandile Dikeni

RE­MEM­BER Bantu Stephen Biko? He was that man from a town called Gins­berg in the East­ern Cape.

On an aside, we share the same clan – amaGcina. Lindiwe Sisulu is from the same clan. In other words, we are not mu­gus. On the con­trary, we are quite cool when it comes to the use of brains. I am just try­ing to say we are not lazy to use medulla ob­lon­gata. We think, ex­cuse the pun, that it is fine to use the brain. We are brainy, I am try­ing to say.

Bantu Biko was so brainy it is well known that he was not fan­cied by the se­cu­rity cops of apartheid.

It is not that they only dis­liked his use of English (they dis­liked that too). They did not like his brain in what­ever lan­guage, full stop.

I was only 11 when Bantu Biko died. This means I was in Stan­dard 1. Many peo­ple dis­ap­peared in the 1970s; peo­ple who dis­agreed with the coun­try’s view on race re­la­tions.

Granted, I was still young in 1977 but I re­mem­ber my dis­com­fort with the no­tion that when we en­tered the cin­ema, the Xhosas, the coloureds and In­di­ans had to sit in dif­fer­ent rooms. The whites, of course, had the prime place to sit and watch Charles Bron­son or Roger Moore.

So when Bantu Biko dis­ap­peared in the 1970s, I also had a sus­pi­cion that the white gov­ern­ment had some­thing to do with my clan mate.

True, at the time I had no clue about the where­abouts of Gins­berg. I also did not know that I shared a clan with bra Steve. In truth, in the fol­low­ing decade, at Vic­tor Ver­ster, I was ex­tremely care­ful not to go the Biko way.

In hind­sight, how could the apartheid guys think that they could get away with the mur­der of such a nice guy?

If you do not know bra Bantu Biko, please read him in I Write What I Like.

His ar­tic­u­la­tion of the stu­pid­ity of the racist dis­course is re­mark­able. It is un­be­liev­able that the whites of South Africa at the time be­lieved such silly drivel. I still can­not be­lieve it. More, to kill a per­son like Biko is just a demon­stra­tion of how de­mented the hu­man be­ing can be.

And the si­lence of his dis­ap­pear­ance can make you de­cide to re­sign from the hu­man race. Imag­ine what the mon­keys and ba­boons thought of the hu­man be­ing when they con­sid­ered the Biko case.

Also, the ma­jor­ity of Euro­peans in South Africa at the time were not both­ered by this sad mo­ment in our his­tory. The blacks were sav­ages and had to be ha­rassed for the colour of their skin. But be­sides com­pet­ing on some­thing as mun­dane as skin colour; we know that the black skin is not in com­pe­ti­tion with the white skin. If they are, then let me say that I think they shouldn’t. I know that you think so too.

Let me has­ten to say that this em­bar­rass­ing mo­ment in South African his­tory must not be re­peated. We owe it to the beauty of liv­ing and life that it must not be re­peated. On the con­trary; let it be a ma­jes­tic les­son that the ten­der essences of life are dec­o­rated by the depths of this con­scious­ness.

Sadly, the ru­mours that keep on reach­ing my ear are that Bantu Biko’s sis­ter is liv­ing a hard life when it comes to fi­nances. If it is so, I am forced to plead that our coun­try finds a way in which we can stop that. I am also plead­ing that the depths of soul teach us to re­mem­ber bra Steve with the depths al­lowed by deep­ness of charm­ing feel­ing. It is pos­si­ble with the love that we pos­sess.

We are obliged to dec­o­rate life with the charms car­ried in Steve’s his­toric life. The cen­tral gov­ern­ment must re­gard it as obli­ga­tion that the his­tory of this com­rade be nar­rated to the charms of the glo­ries of this coun­try.

His brave life must be used to nar­rate the fu­ture abil­i­ties of this land.

Be­tween me and you, I (and some enor­mous names in this coun­try) am very im­pressed to be re­lated to this enor­mous stature.

It is not ev­ery day that we are charmed by such majesty. We must just learn to un­der­stand that the depths of this un­der­stand­ing are deeper than the shal­low cor­ners of clichés.

Ten­derly, must we nar­rate the amaz­ing charms and com­pli­ments of this glo­ri­ous per­son from the East­ern Cape.

It is upon all of us in this coun­try to re­mind the world of Bantu Stephen Biko.

Humbly, we are not able to live with­out the great graces the peo­ple like Steve Biko gave us, free of charge! I am not say­ing it only be­cause we are from the same clan. It is just that Steve’s name is great!

STEVE BIKO

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