As we meet here today, we should remind ourselves that we are living in an asymmetric world where Africa and its resources continue to be plundered and the plight of the African people continues to be reality. As we gather for this 16th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture we are all conscious of the fact that Africa is the only continent with the potential of remaining the bread basket of the world. However, for this to happen we need to rescue the noble ideals of Black Consciousness, which will enable us to gain consciousness of who we are, what we represent and the imperative need to embrace democracy, fight corruption, fight impunity, promote integrity, and end the scourge of perpetual conflict on the Continent. Maybe I should illustrate this with an example which comes to my memory just now when we say that for us to be the bread basket of the world we need to rescue the noble ideals of Black Consciousness; we have to know who we are.
It reminds me of an episode whereby we, African Statesmen were meeting with some European Statesmen and we were discussing the New Partnership for African Development, which is now called NEPAD. And suddenly one among us Africans started thanking the Europeans for the noble idea of NEPAD which he said came from the Europeans who were in front of us. He started praising them, congratulating them and addressing all the contributions of our thoughts to them. I remember that I had to intervene to remind the person who was speaking that the idea never came from the Europeans; the idea had come from eminent leaders like President Mbeki, President Obasanjo, and President Bouteflika. It were Africans who created the idea of what brought us to NEPAD. So I felt that it was lack of pride in ourselves; we did not know what our capacities were; that we were capable of having very noble ideas. So we have to rescue the noble ideas of Black Consciousness.
16th Annual Steve Biko memorial lecture delivered by His Excellency Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Steve Biko started the black consciousness movement he also was instrumental in founding the South African students Organizational and the Black People’s Convention. Biko was born in King Williams town in the eastern Cape of South Africa in 1946.
Black consciousness movement was revolutionary it played a critical role in the struggle against apartheid. One of Steve Biko’s children was given the name Samora, like Samora Machel the first president of independent Mozambique. Nelson Mandela married Graca Machel in 1998.
Biko said “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed. In other words, he who controls the mind of the oppressed determines the future of the oppressed”.
Biko starting the black consciousness movement, made black South Africans look at themselves and fight against apartheid, this thinking would upset the status quo. The Black consciousness movement was dangerous to the architects of the system of apartheid.
Black consciousness in South Africa has taken down the Rhodes statue, Black consciousness in England needs to bring down the Rhodes statue.