This Day in History – August 12, 1977

Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko arrested in South Africa


On this day in 1977, Stephen Biko was arrested in South Africa.

Biko was the leader of the Black Consciousness (BC) Movement in South Africa in the 1970s. BC was a global movement with a call to restore African and Black consciousness which had been drowned through colonialism, racism and slavery. It was meant to transform the psychology of the black community and build their confidence as a whole. Biko believed that to redeem the African consciousness there was need to address the psychological and physical liberation of the mind.


Black Consciousness originated from the United States and borrowed on the ideologies of black power and black theology. The movement gained popularity in South Africa in the late 1960’s. Biko was inspired by black civil rights personalities such as Marcus Garvey, Frantz Fanon, and Du Bois among others.

In his political and activist life, Biko was remained vocal in speaking against apartheid and in March, 1973, he was banned from speaking in public rallies as his talks were considered to be inciting black people against white people.

In 1977, Biko become the President of Black Consciousness and worked closely with different groups of people abroad. The State was uncomfortable with this relationship, and on March 1977, Biko was arrested as a way of suppressing the movement. Biko was reported to have been tortured during his stay in prison and he died in September 1977 alone in his cell.


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