Black consciousness advocated love for all of humanity - Simphiwe Sesante

Tuesday, 12 Septemeber marks 40 years since the death of former anti-apartheid struggle hero, Steve Bantu Biko.

Biko, who was born on 18 December 1946, died in police custody on 12 September 1977.

He founded the Black Consciousness Movement, which has been described by Professor Simphiwe Sesanti Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies, as decolonisation of the mind.

Bantu Biko believed and understood very strongly that first and foremost in our liberation struggle it is very important to liberate people mentally, because once you decolonise the mind, everything else follows....

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

It was important for Bantu Biko and other leaders that mental emancipation precede everything else so that a sense of self-esteem and self confidence, self reliance would be reinculcated in the African....

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

Black consciousness was never a teaching of hatred for white people in fact it advocated love for all humanity.

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

Speaking on Biko's views surrounding economic emancipation, Sesanti explains that the struggle hero's insights were informed by Kwame Nkrumah.

When the South African student organisation was formed in 1968 it was just a year after Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown.

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

Already Bantu Biko could understand that our oppressors were eager to exit through the front political door but much more eager to re-renter through the back door, economically so.

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

They had no problem in allowing us to vote, they were not willing to allow African people to have economic power.

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

That is why he emphasised that political independence without economic freedom is meaningless because you are not going to be able to do anything without the necessary resources.

Professor Simphiwe Sesanti, Associate Professor at Unisa’s Institute for African Renaissance Studies

Click on the link below to listen to the full audio...


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