40 years ago today, South Africa witnessed one of the most atrocious crimes that apartheid committed against the then oppressed, when it masterminded the assassination of Bantu Stephen Biko – one of the foremost stalwarts of our liberation struggle, and also founder of the Black Consciousness Movement – in police detention. In committing that dastardly act, the apartheid regime was convinced that it had dealt a fatal blow not only to the philosophy that Biko propounded, but also to the broader struggle for liberation of the oppressed.
As Inkatha Freedom Party, we join multitudes of patriotic South Africans to commemorate this day and pay tribute to this fallen hero of our struggle. Above that, we thank God who bequeathed to our country such a giant who never feared to speak truth to apartheid power; who proclaimed fearfully to all black people that the struggle was more than just about acquiring democracy and the right to vote; and who, instead instilled in our people that the struggle was about rediscovering our very being as the indigenous.
As the IFP, we are still proud to have shared the stage of the liberation struggle with this giant, albeit from different perspectives. Yes, we had our differences with Biko. However, we differed on how total liberation would be achieved; and not on whether or not we were oppressed we needed to fight until our liberation.
Of particular importance however was the fact that we shared a similar outlook and approach with Biko with regards to the essence of the liberation struggle. Biko called it the Black Consciousness; we called it cultural liberation. Both approaches had to do with the decolonization and liberation of the minds of the indigenous so that they would cease to glorify ways of life foreign to Africa and despise those which are African in character and origin. Hence Inkatha was called the National Cultural Liberation Movement.
It was adherence to this tenet of complete liberation of the oppressed which led our President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to vigorously pursue the revival of national events such as King Shaka Day; commemorations of our fallen kings and warriors; and resuscitation and strengthening of African organs of governance and leadership such as Ubukhosi. This he pursued despite incessant choruses of condemnation which accused him of fostering “tribalism,” sung by those whose minds were still trapped in the dungeons of mental and spiritual colonization.
We thank God that both Biko and our President tirelessly pursued these forms of struggle and today it has become a welcome and gratifying fashion for our people to be culturally-conscious.
We pray that the spirit and philosophy of Steve Biko will continue to permeate every facet of the lives of the formerly-oppressed so that one day, all of Africa will be totally extricated from the Egypt of neo-colonialism which glorifies things extraneous at the expense of things indigenous.
Mbongeleni Joshua Mazibuko
IFP Deputy National Spokesperson