The words of Steve Biko
Refrain from being a spectator in a game where you should be a participant.
The above statement, attributed to Steve Biko, may seem like an obvious sentiment, but you know as well as I do that we too often spend our lives on the sidelines.
I read, mutter under my breath, join a march now and then, but frankly, I’ve contributed little to the causes of feminism and gender equality. As a woman, I’m personally invested in uplifting women’s voices—but what have I ever done in this regard? Nothing significant.
I’m reflecting on this as I begin to research the life and work of Biko. His face (see photo above) graces one wall of our new Cape Town apartment. Other Remote Year participant apartments have murals depicting Oprah, Obama (I was jealous of that one), Mozart, and even Mother Theresa. Biko seemed fitting for me and the goals of this blog.
He was a South African anti-apartheid freedom fighter and a martyr for Black people’s justice. This much I already knew. But his looming countenance called for a deeper understanding beyond simply re-watching “Cry Freedom” or listening to the eponymously titled Peter Gabriel tune.
As of this posting, I’ve just begun to skim the surface of Biko’s short but complex life, but “getting in the game” and self determination seem key to his teachings. At a time when white liberals were the most prominent anti-apartheid activists, he founded a Black-only organization intent on uplifting the voices of the oppressed themselves. He argued that they were the ones best able to define the texture and tempo of their own resistance.
So, I wonder. . .how can I get in the game? I’m hoping this year leads me toward an answer.