South African social activist
Steve Biko, an outspoken opponent of apartheid, earned fame as a leader of the black consciousness movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The movement was based on the belief that the divisions between whites and blacks in South Africa were so great that blacks could not count on whites to end apartheid. Biko also insisted that blacks had to form their own political structures and to develop a new sense of pride in their own culture, religion, and ethical system.
Born in the eastern Cape Province of SOUTH AFRICA, Biko studied medicine at the University of Natal. While in college he became politically active and established a number of all-black associations. His activities led the South African government in 1973 to restrict his movements and to forbid him to speak or write publicly. Four years later Biko was arrested and held without trial for violating his travel restrictions. He died in prison after being tortured by the police. His death served to rally opponents of apartheid, and Biko has been remembered worldwide in song, drama, and film. (See also Apartheid.)