September 19, 2012
Toronto, ON – The Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity (NPAS) has organized a forum to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Steve Biko. This event will be on Thursday, September 20 at 7pm in Room 5-280 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (252 Bloor Street West, at St. George station).Steve Biko was a revolutionary, educator, and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) in Azania (South Afrika). He recognized that the emancipation of Afrikan people must be led by Afrikan people, and his work as a student organizer in solidarity with the Afrikan working class is especially relevant for those of us interested in or dedicated to radical organization-building strategies and community mobilization. Black Consciousness, as Gussai Sheikheldin says, “channels our emotions and intelligence towards action for social transformation, and also towards building genuine solidarity among our peoples and other oppressed peoples around the world, to fight common ideological enemies that we can only fight better together.”
Central to Biko’s stance on self-determined, self-sufficient, organized liberatory struggle was the recognition that Afrikan liberation in Azania could not occur unless Afrikan people develop the critical consciousness necessary to understand the social, economic, and political roots of their oppression by the former apartheid state. Biko recognized the importance of public education for liberation struggles, and this is part of the reason for this public education initiative. While Black consciousness provided an oppositional education to the normative and racist education that the majority of Afrikan people received under apartheid, it is crucial that we continue to engage in public education in our Pan-Afrikan struggles that strengthen our capacities to resist white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist oppression in our organizations and communities.
Responses to the recent massacre of mineworkers at the Marikana mine in Azania by state agents reveals state cooptation of ideas that revolutionary forces must reclaim. As Yolisa Dalamba states, “Given the condition of Afrikans in Azania and around the world the relevance of Black Consciousness is striking. At Marikana and around the country the majority of the people remain oppressed both by apartheid’s brutal legacy and Afrikans who now preside over the post-apartheid state. The latter have abandoned the liberation struggle for capitalism that regards Afrikans as little more than slaves.” We must work to expose political opportunists that parasitically profit from the national wealth of Azania, while claiming the legacy of genuine revolutionary struggle. Steve Biko was brutally tortured and killed by the apartheid regime because his contribution to the work of Afrikan liberation genuinely threatened the oppressive status quo. There is no space in our work for conciliation with the exploitative forces Biko and countless freedom fighters died resisting.
So, we will gather to engage in critical discussion and commemorate the life and work of Steve Biko, while we commit and re-commit ourselves to the ongoing work of Pan-Afrikan solidarity and liberation. We will show a documentary film about Biko’s life and work, and we will have a panel discussion featuring: Dr. Rozena Maart, professor at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal in Durban, Azania (“Black Consciousness and the Possibility of a Gender Analysis”); Gussai Sheikheldin, organizer with NPAS and graduate student at the University of Guelph (“Racial but Not Racial: Being Black to Biko and Rodney”); and Yolisa Dalamba, community activist & educator who was active in the anti-apartheid movement in Canada and Azania (“Black Consciousness and its Relevance for Afrikan Activism in Canada”).
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“WOMEN must be at the forefront of nation-building to bring the South African citizenry together and, therefore, develop a whole new ethos of human co-existence.” – Steve Biko
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men [and women] who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” – Steve Biko