Cape Town – The Eastern Cape is a factory of great democratic leaders of South Africa. Not only is it where the first democratic leaders of our country were born, but also where they first implemented their democratic practices.
Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki are two worth mentioning. Another is Steve Bantu Biko.
Some people argue that Biko would have been a leader as great as – if not even greater than – Nelson Mandela had he not been murdered by the small, fearful minority who ruled during Apartheid.
On a recent trip to the Steve Biko Centre, right in the heart of the Ginsberg Township where Biko once lived, I learnt three things that South Africans should think about too.
1. We need to know about SA’s past – all of it
The only way to ensure the new generations do not make the same mistakes as the old ones is for them to understand the severity of how things were during South Africa’s notorious political past.
Younger South Africans – who may not fully understand the circumstances surrounding lost leaders like Steve Biko – should be educated and reminded of how wrong things can go.
2. We are seeing a pattern…
As I was walking through the Steve Biko Centre, I felt so sorry that SA missed out on the influence of a man like Biko. He had such good ideals, and such peaceful means of achieving them. And yet, his lamp was ousted under the proverbial bushel.
It happened in the days of Steve Biko – when his undeniable leadership qualities and respect for the people was undermined by blind, power hungry rulers. And today, merely 20 years after SA was liberated, it is happening again.
The real, good leaders are not given the chance to rule – despite democracy.
South Africans should do everything in their power to not let this happen again.
3. South Africa has world-class museums – we should appreciate them
If you think you need to go to Europe to have an authentic museum experience, think again.
Although SA’s museums are different to those of Europe, they’re not lacking in any division.
SA’s museums – the Steve Biko Centre and the Nelson Mandela museum, in particular – are much more open and interactive that the old-school ones, making it fun to go there.
Modern media are used to enhance story-telling – story-telling that’s done by individuals who are not only expert at their job, but also have personal relevance to their position in the museum.
In the Steve Biko Centre our guide Sinethemba Homani could relay stories of Steve Biko’s home and his widowed wife, Ntsiki Biko, who still lives in the area and visits the museum often.
Want to go? Here's how:
Where: One Zotshie Street, Ginsberg, King William's Town, Eastern Cape
Opening Times: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 17:00, Saturday - 09:00 to 13:00; Sunday - by appointment only
Apart from the Steve Biko Centre, there are a number of other cultural and political heritage tours you can embark on. Contact the Steve Biko Centre for more information.
Alternatively, Velile Ndlumbini from Imonti Tours can organise a tour tailored to your needs.