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on 29 November 2005
This collection of lectures, articles, interviews, letters and trial testimonies was smuggled out of South Africa after Biko's murder in detention in 1977 and published in 1978. Most of it represents his writing in the South African Student Organisation journal - which acted as the theoretical organ of Black Consciousness in South Africa in the 60s and 70s - where his column appeared under the pseudonym 'Frank Talk' and covers
a range of issues. Besides a lucid exposition of the basic philosophy of Black Consciousness, he discusses Bantustans, Bantu education, the institutional church (including the missionaries) and white liberals, demonstrating cogently the role that these had played and were playing in the disempowerment of black people. In the two articles on the Black Consciousness philosphy, 'Black Souls in White Skins' and 'We Blacks', he notes that the first step in addressing the psychological and physical demoralisation and dehumanisation of "the black man" is to make him "come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused..". From this distance the echoes of Aime Cesare and Fanon are clear as is the predominantly humanist discourse of the earlier pieces: "the envisioned self", "the dictates of the inner soul", "free at heart". The later essays make more explicit the link between capitalist exploitation and poverty on the one hand and racism and black disempowerment on the other. Biko himself, in his role as founder and Branch Executive of BCP (Black Community Programme) worked tirelessly in the battle against black rural poverty. Readers who want to explore the roots and tenets of black consciousness in South Africa will be both enlightened by the clarity of Biko's arguments and impressed by his essential humanity, intelligence and lack of vengefulness against whites. His quarrel is not with whites as people, but with the entrenched mindset of "white racism and "superiority" which whites need to escape. In his last famous and poignant essay 'On Death', written shortly before his death in detention, he confronts - and presages - torture and death fearlessly.
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on 27 May 2008
Steven Biko was only 31 when he was murdered in prison, after having been detained by the South African apartheid regime under a "terrorism" legislation. Despite his short life, Biko was destined to become something of a revolutionary icon. Within a year of his death in 1977, a selection of his speeches and articles (including extracts from evidence given during his trials) was published as this collection.

Born in the Cape Province in 1946, Biko spent most of his life as an active member of the students movement. He was the loudest advocate in his day of the Black Consciousness Movement which was essentially a call for blacks, instead of non-blacks, to lead the struggle against apartheid. In Biko's opinion, no one was better qualified, and could be more sincere in that purpose, to free black people than black people themselves. Most of his speeches and writings are an articulation of this dominant theme of his life.

Biko's writings are sincere and thought provoking. He deals with a wide range of issues- racism, the role of religion in the revolutionary struggle, the socio-political structures of the apartheid regime (including Bantustans and the racial division of education), black culture, the role of fear in perpetuating oppression and his own stoicism in the face of torture and death.

Like him or hate him, Biko stands out as a man who, literarily, put his life on the line for what he believed. His courage shines through the pages of this book.
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on 2 March 2007
Biko was a revolutionary. Whether you agree with his writings or not they challenge your thought and one can ask for no more than that. This book consists of a selection of his writings, ranging from the role of the Church to the politics regarding Bantustans. His position on some topics are fairly shocking, most notably that of white liberals. One gets the impression after reading this book that his problem was as much with the white liberals as it was it white supremacists and it is on these points I found myself disagreeing with him. Nevertheless one must always consider the context in which he was writing, it's easy for us to criticise him in the safety we enjoy, but I think I would be more sympathetic to his criticism were I too be living under apartheid. Another major topic of interest here is the idea of back consciousness. Whilst again there are some problems with this theory (not least issues of inclusiveness) it makes for fascinating reading and Biko raises some real questions that are still relevant in today.
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on 1 March 2013
I had to buy this book for my university course but it is so interesting I would recommend it for general reading too. It gives a great insight into the struggle against the apartheid from an interesting and different perspective.
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on 16 March 2014
I have been reading about politics in South Africa since 1994, that is twenty years ago and I can't just stop wanting to read more and more and to know more.
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on 14 July 2015
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on 29 February 2012
A great book about a great man, I just think it has to much about the tribes etc. of course it is key in order to understand the whole thing, I was expecting something else.
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