AZAPO de­nounces auction of Biko let­ter

Steve Biko Foun­da­tion to try to stop sale of let­ter to pre­serve strug­gle arte­facts

African Times - - Politics - BUKUTA NKUNA

THE Aza­nian Peo­ple’s Or­gan­i­sa­tion (AZAPO) has de­cried the re­cent sale of a his­toric let­ter of strug­gle icon Bantu Steve Biko in the United States. The let­ter, dated 12 Jan­uary 1977 and which was auc­tioned on the 16 Novem­ber 2017 by an US-based Amer­i­can com­pany Nate D. San­ders Auc­tions, was about Biko’s re­quest to be granted per­mis­sion to con­sult with the lawyers work­ing on his fel­low Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment (BCM) Mapetla Mo­hapi’s in­quest.

Mo­hapi died the pre­vi­ous year in po­lice cus­tody. It was sus­pected he was killed by the apartheid se­cu­rity po­lice.

In the let­ter, Biko wrote: “I have been asked by the at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the Mo­hapi fam­ily in the above mat­ter to make my­self avail­able for con­sul­ta­tions on the 16th Jan­uary with their Coun­sel as well as at­tend the in­quest which has been set down for the 17th and 18th Jan­uary.

“Kindly grant me the nec­es­sary per­mis­sion to en­ter the premises of the King Wil­liam’s Town Mag­is­trate’s Court on the rel­e­vant dates and to at­tend the con­sul­ta­tions which will be held some­where in King Wil­liam’s Town. I do not as yet know where ex­actly Mr Mx­enge plans to have the con­sul­ta­tion. Yours Faith­fully, BS Biko.”

Speak­ing to African Times, AZAPO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Zithulele Cindi said: “We (have) de­cried such preda­tory be­hav­iour of peo­ple who see mis­ery and suf­fer­ings as­so­ci­ated with our strug­gle as av­enues for mak­ing quick bucks. It is not the first time that such at­tempts were made.

“We are re­minded of at­tempts to have the Biko Au­topsy record auc­tioned.

“Our at­ti­tude is that while some of th­ese items or arte­facts are pri­mar­ily fam­ily heir­looms but they are ul­ti­mately ma­te­rial that needs to be housed in mu­seum about strug­gle ex­ploits and ac­tiv­i­ties for pos­ter­ity.”

Cindi said that the re­cent auction showed a wor­ri­some lack of gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion in the preser­va­tion of his­toric mon­u­ments of strug­gle icons.

“There is a bi­ased ac­count of the his­tory of our strug­gle whereby one sec­tion of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment has ar­ro­gated unto it­self the role of be­ing our lib­er­a­tor sin­gle-hand­edly. Un­til the cor­rect his­tory of strug­gle is re­layed there can be noth­ing to be happy or sat­is­fied about.”

He also said that de­spite the sale hav­ing gone through, they had met with the Steve Biko Foun­da­tion in an ef­fort to halt the auction.

“We have en­gaged with fra­ter­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Steve Biko Foun­da­tion to raise our ob­jec­tion and do our best to have the auction stopped.

“They were also ac­tively work­ing with other or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­sti­tu­tions abroad to pre­vent the auction”

As this year marks 40 years since Biko’s death by apartheid po­lice on 12 Septem­ber 1977, the party says that it will con­tinue to cling onto the recog­ni­tion of anti-apartheid ac­tivists.

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