Official Opening: The Steve Biko Centre

The Steve Biko Foundation is pleased to announce that the official opening of the Steve Biko Centre will take place from November 30 - December 2, 2012.

By way of background, the Steve Biko Centre is located in the Ginsberg Township of King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape Province. Its mandate is to translate global interest in Black Consciousness and the legacy of anti-apartheid activist Bantu Stephen Biko into a developmental resource for the region.

Often, when articulating the developmental agenda, housing, electricity and water are at the fore of discourse; less emphasis is placed on the intangible, yet equally important aspects of heritage, culture and history. Using these intangibles, the Steve Biko Centre will contribute to development, serving as an intellectual resource as well as an economic catalyst for the region.

Accordingly, the Steve Biko Centre is comprised of:

• A Museum
• An Archive and Library Resource Centre
• A Commemorative Garden honoring human rights activists
• Training Rooms
• Cultural Performance and Production Spaces
• A Community Media Centre
• Heritage Retail Spaces

In addition to offering a comprehensive visitor experience, the Steve Biko Centre will feature as the cornerstone of the Biko Heritage Trail; a broader series of Biko related sites in the Eastern Cape. These sites have been graded and duly declared as national heritage sites by the South African Heritage Resources Agency. The sites consistently garner both local and international attention. Among them are:

• The Biko Statue, Oxford Street, East London
• Biko Bridge, Settler’s Way, East London
• Zanempilo Clinic, Zinyoka
• Biko’s Home, Ginsberg Township, King William’s Town
• Biko’s Office, 15 Leopold Street, King William’s Town
• Biko’s Grave, The Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance, King William’s Town

For this reason the Steve Biko Centre is designed as both a destination for the tourist and a vehicle for greater cultural awareness and economic development for the local community. It is meant to be a living monument that utilizes memory to channel local energies towards contemporary development challenges. As such, the principal objectives of the Steve Biko Centre are to:

• Educate the Public about Steve Biko and Black Consiousness
• Contribute to Poverty Eradication through the Development of Cultural Industries
• Utilize Heritage as a Tool for Fostering Social Cohesion

Given its multi-faceted approach to social development, poverty alleviation and cultural awareness, this initiative has received the active endorsement of community members, local authorities and the national government. The Steve Biko Centre, due to the positive social and economic impact it will have on the region and the nation, has already been recognized as a Legacy Project, i.e. an initiative of national historic and cultural significance such as Robben Island and Freedom Park.

In order to qualify as a legacy project, an initiative must be endorsed by Cabinet. Beyond its national status, elements of the Trail are also part of the National Heritage Council’s National Liberation Route and are included in UNESCO’s interim World Heritage List, which delineates global sites of cultural and natural significance.

The lead funder of the Steve Biko Center is the National Department of Arts and Culture - the institution mandated by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa to develop a more inclusive South African heritage landscape. Together, with the National Lottery, the National Department of Tourism, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and Transnet, the Department of Arts and Culture has made the implementation of this initiative possible.

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