Boesak: ‘Black consciousnessis resurfacing’

2011-09-20 00:00

THE philosophy of black consciousness is resurfacing and the values it espouses are essential for public life.

This was said by veteran theologian and political observer Professor Allan Boesak at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban yesterday during a lecture about Steve Bantu Biko, the father of black consciousness philosophy.

Biko, a former UKZN student and a respected anti-apartheid activist in the 1960s and 1970s, died in police custody in Pretoria in September 1977.

Boesak’s lecture on black consciousness was divided into four series, black consciousness as a liberating consciousness, as an empowering consciousness, as an engaging consciousness and as a critical consciousness.

He was critical of what he called the ANC’s deliberate fading of the historic role of black consciousness “in its own almost total claim on the history of South Africa’s liberation struggle”.

“Biko knew exactly who and what the apartheid regime was, but he also understood clearly that the white [Afrikaner] regime could as easily be used as a scapegoat for all whites, especially the liberal white who claimed to criticise the apartheid regime but had no qualms soaking up the benefits the white racist structure provided …”

He said lessons that can be drawn from black consciousness are crucial for a search for a meaningful life in South Africa’s burgeoning democracy and “our struggle for justice, equality and human dignity and in our effort to give meaning to the term reconciled nationhood”.

“All South Africans should simply be convinced that in embracing the humanity of others they are embracing their own, and in that greater scheme of being, pigmentation and what is called ‘race’ are entirely irrelevant.”

Boesak encouraged the students to ensure that the enlightenment brought by the likes of the Biko lectures is not confined within the walls of higher learning, but shared with different communities.

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