The Poor Black Masses Need Black Consciousness Now More Than Ever

By Nompumelelo Zinhle Manzini

In the Quest for a True Humanity, I Write What I Like Steve Biko wrote that “Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time, its essence is the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression- the blackness of the skin- and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that blind them to perpetual servitude”

I attended the fourth session of the FrankTalk Dialogues. These dialogues are intended for us as the youth to engage in discussions on prominent issues that impact our contemporary South African society ranging from political, to economic and social development. The key topic that we discussed together with the panellists and the live audience was Biko and Black Consciousness, Today. Mr Pandelani Nefelovhodwe, a panellist and former BCM leader, stated that “the apartheid economy is still intact” and that on its own suggests for me that the Black Consciousness is still greatly needed and relevant. The sad reality is that the movement is slowly dying out, whereas this is the time when it should be at its peak.

If the apartheid economy is still intact as Mr Nefelovhodwe suggested, this means that a large number of our people are repressed. Thus their “self” is inexistent and one of the key issues that Black Consciousness teaches is for people to have “a ‘self’ and to further find their identity. Therefore how can we as a nation progress effectively if there are still people who are repressed by the government that was meant to liberate them? Our people’s repression is a result of many issues such as the poor leadership that we have in our government, which has a trickle-down effect on our economic, social and somewhat political freedom. Instead of black men rallying together with their fellow brothers around the cause of their oppression which is “the blackness of [their] skin” and the dismal services it entitles one to, i.e. poor education system creates even greater divisions amongst blacks.

I for one feel that the reason that the BCM is dying out is because it’s only amongst the educated black elite in our society. For instance, most of the live audience members at these dialogues are young people who are largely informed and somewhat educated. The room gets full of conscious individuals and these are the people who don’t need to hear about BCM. It’s our fellow brothers and sisters who are somewhere in Alexander who don’t want to challenge the system that need to hear about BCM. Another possible reason why BC is fading away is because our generation engages in many dialogues but we don’t see much action! As Mr Nefolovhodwe said on Tuesday night as “the youth [we need] to organise [ourselves]” and use the many advanced resources that we have to awaken our people to consciousness”.

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