It's been 42 years since the tragic death of the Black Consciousness Movement leader, Steve Biko. The month of September has since been marked to celebrate and honour Biko, who died in police custody on 12 September 1977. Today, we remember and honour his remarkable life.

Read a poem by Millard W. Arnold, extracted from , The Testimony of Steve Biko.


STEVE BIKO LIVES
A POEM
In 1978, a few months after Steve Biko’s death, Stevie Wonder called and asked Millard Arnold if he would accept the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples’ (NAACP) Image Award for Biko posthumously. Arnold was flown out to Los Angeles for the Eleventh Annual NAACP Image Award celebration at which he accepted the Stevie Wonder Perpetual Award in Biko’s honour. This is the poem Arnold wrote and read for the event.

They tell me Steve Biko is dead 
To persuade me perhaps that his strong but sensitive voice can be stilled by hatred and fear
They tell me Steve Biko is dead
To show me perhaps that humanity and dignity can be bludgeoned into submission
They tell me Steve Biko is dead
To convince me perhaps that courage and compassion can be somehow compromised 
But what they are afraid to tell me is that Biko lives
That the spirit, the ideals, the dreams, the glory of Steve Biko lives
That it lives in Soweto
That it lives in Watts
That it lives in Harlem
That it lives in the minds of all those oppressed
Steve Biko lives because the aspirations of a people cannot be denied
Steve Biko lives because violence and repression will not quench the thirst for freedom and decency
Steve Biko lives because his special sense of humanity and integrity cannot be forgotten
But they, they would have me, they would have you believe that Steve Biko is dead
You and I…
We know better


Here’s an edit of seminal books which mirror his life (for Steve Biko Month and beyond):

Book cover for I Write What L Like

I Write What L Like

I Write What I Like features the writing of the famous activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko. Before his untimely death in detention at age 30, he was instrumental in uniting Black Africans in the struggle against the apartheid government in South Africa. This 40th anniversary edition ...

Book cover for No Fears Expressed

No Fears Expressed

First published in 1987, No Fears Expressed is a compilation of quotes taken from the words of the activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko. Sourced from the iconic I Write What I Like, including the collection of Biko's columns published in the journal of the South Africa Student Org...

Book cover for I Write What I Like

I Write What I Like

Before his death in detention, Steve Biko was an instrumental force in the struggle against apartheid. This best-selling book brings together seminal pieces written by the man widely regarded as the father of Black Consciousness, including Biko's articles written under the pseudonym 'Frank T...

Book cover for The Testimony Of Steve Biko

The Testimony Of Steve Biko

What comes first to mind when one thinks of political trials in South Africa are the Rivonia Trial of 1956–61 and the Treason Trial of 1963–64. Rarely, if ever, is the 1976 SASO/BPC trial mentioned in the same breath and yet it was perhaps the most political trial of all. The defendants, all members...