Today 40 years ago, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko was brutally murdered by a government which saw the power of his ideas as a threat to an unjust system of racial injustice.
Biko stood for the idea which said that we are not defined by the colour of our skin or the shape of our nose, but by the content of our character. Moreover, he taught us that ideas – and the freedom to promote and defend these ideas – has the power to shape the future and create a just and fair society for all.
40 years on, and our challenge is to build a post nationalist society, where it is not a competition of races, but where the rights of all individuals – whether black or white – can be protected and advanced. Moreover, today marks a moment to reflect on how we advance the dignity of those who are still left behind. We can and we must build an inclusive and prosperous society for all.
Steve Biko’s murder was a watershed moment in the struggle for freedom for black South Africans, and today we celebrate and commemorate his legacy. We now have a rights based constitution thanks to the struggle symbolised today by the death of Steve Biko. Each day, we as South Africans must protect these rights, and work hard to ensure that freedom is not just an intangible idea – but a right which truly liberates black South Africans from the legacy of apartheid.
It is now our responsibility to ensure that the ideas Steve Biko died for are upheld, and that we continue to fight discrimination and injustice in all forms. This is the legacy that Steve Biko left behind, and a legacy we must all honour.