Monday, September 12, 2011

You Can't Blow Out a Fire: The Life and Death of Steve Biko

Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour Perform Gabriel's Song Biko at Friends United Against Malaria - Genève, Switzerland on 08/10/2005.

Today, September 12, 2011, on the anniversary of Steve Biko's death at the hands of the South African security police, I reflect on the impact Mr. Biko had on South Africa and the world. I stand with Artists for a New South Africa and proclaim, "Biko lives on!"

On September 12,1977 Steve Biko died in in police custody in South Africa.
The leader of the black consciousness movement in South Africa, Steve Biko, was 30 years old.

Mr Biko had been in custody since August 18, 1977. He was the 20th person to die in custody during an 18 month stretch in 1976-1977. Steve Biko left a wife and two children.

Steve Biko's Biography

Steve Biko was born in South Africa in 1946.

He became active in the anti-apartheid movement in 1960s when he was studying medicine at the University of Natal.

Steve Biko organized the South African Students'Organistion in 1968 and was elected its first president the following year.

Expelled from his medical studies, Biko began working full-time for the Black Community Programmes organization. Biko also started writing under the pen-name Frank Talk for the South African Students'Organistion newsletter.

By 1973 his work had come to the attention of the repressive South African government. In an attempt to curtail his activism, Biko was placed under a form of house arrest restricting him to his birthplace - King William's Town .

Even under these restraints and the pressure from the South African government, Biko continued his work with the Black Community Programmes.

Steve Biko also helped create the Zimele Trust Fund in 1975, which helped political prisoners and their families, and the Ginsberg Educational Trust, to assist black students.

Steve Biko was arrested by the apartheid government on August 18, 1977. He died in police custody on September 12, 1977.

Steve Biko's memory lives on as a beacon to all those who fearlessly face down injustice across the globe. Steve Biko will never be forgotten.

Biko, written by Peter Gabriel, This version is from the 1994 Manu Dibango Album WAKAFRIKA: featuring Alex Brown, Peter Gabriel, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Geoffrey Oryema and Sinead O'Connor

by Peter Gabriel

September '77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

When I try and sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are
watching now
watching now

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