Friday, January 20, 2012

Quotes for Friday from Steve Biko's I Write What I Like

Nowhere is the arrogance of the liberal ideology demonstrated so well as in their insistence that the problems of the country can only be solved by a bilateral approach involving both black and white. [21]

At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man, each group to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination there will obviously arise a genuine fusion of the lifestyles of the various groups. This is true integration. [22]

As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with blacks, they call a few 'intelligent and articulate' blacks to 'come around for tea at home', where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question 'how can we bring about change in South Africa?' The more such tea-parties one call the more of a liberal he is and the freer he shall feel from guilt that harness and binds his conscience. [23]

They have been made to feel inferior for so long that for them it is comforting to drink tea, wine or beer with whites who seem to treat them as equals. This serves to boost up their own ego to the extent of making them feel slightly superior to those blacks who do not get similar treatment from whites. These are the sort of blacks who are a danger to the community. [25]

These dull-witted, self-centred blacks are in the ultimate analysis as guilty of the arrest of progress as their white friends for it is from such groups that the theory of gradualism emanates and this is what keeps the blacks confused and always hoping that one day God will step down from heaven to solve their problems. [25]

Does this mean that I am against integration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up by and maintained by whites, the YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that). I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people. [26]

The liberal must understand that the days of the Noble Savage are gone; that the blacks do not need a go-between in this struggle for their own emancipation. [27]

Apartheid - both petty and grand - is obviously evil. Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. [29]

At some stage one can foresee a situation where black people will feel they have nothing to live for and will shout to their God 'Thy will be done.' In deed His will shall be done but it shall not appeal equally to all mortals for indeed we have different versions of His will. If the white God has been doing the talking all along, at some stage the black God will have to raise His voice and make Himself heard over and above noises from His counterpart. What happens at that stage depends largely on what happens in the intervening period. [33]

The anachronism of a well-meaning God who allows people to suffer continually under an obviously immoral system is not lost to young blacks who continue to drop out of Church by the hundreds. [34]

The bible must not be seen to preach that all authority is divinely instituted. It must rather preach that it is sin to allow oneself to be oppressed. The bible must continually be shown to have something to say to the black man to keep him going in his journey towards realisation of the self. [34]

Black theology seeks to depict Jesus as a fighting God who saw the exchange of Roman money - the oppressor's coinage - in His father's temple as so sacrilegious that it merited a violent reaction from Him - the Son of Man. [34]

In order to achieve real action you must yourself be a living part of Africa and of her thought; you must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress and the happiness of Africa. There is no place outside that fight for the artist or for the intellectual who is not himself concerned with, and completely at one with the people in the great battle of Africa and of suffering humanity. [35]

Black people must recognise the various institutions of apartheid for what they are - gags intended to get black people fighting separately for certain 'freedoms' and 'gains' which were prescribed for them long ago. [42]

One of the most difficult things to do these days is to talk with authority on anything to do with African culture. Somehow Africans are not expected to have any deep understanding of their own culture or even of themselves. [44]

The philosophy of Black Consciousness, therefore, expresses group pride and the determination by the blacks to rise and attain the envisaged self. At the heart of this kind of thinking is the realisation by blacks that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. [74]

The absolutely infantile evidence upon which the State builds up its cases in some of the trials does suggest to me that they are quite capable of arresting a group of boys playing hide and seek and charging them with high treason. [81]

When I turn on my radio, when I hear that someone in the Pondoland forest was beaten and tortured, I say that we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead, when I turn my radio, when I hear that someone in jail slipped off a piece of soap, fell and died I say that we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead, he is likely to be found in Pretoria. [82]

White people, working through their vanguard - the South African Police - have come to realise the truth of that golden maxim - if you cannot make a man respect you, then make him fear you. [83]

On his own, therefore, the black man wishes to explore his surroundings and test his possibilities - in other words to make his freedom real by whatever means he deems fit. At the heart of this kind of thinking is the realisation by blacks that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. If one is free at heart no man-made chains can bind one to servitude, but if one's mind is so manipulated and controlled by the oppressor as to make the oppressed believe that he is a liability to the white man, then there will be nothing the oppressed can do to scare his powerful masters. [102]

In a true bid for change we have to take off our coats, be prepared to lose our comfort and security, our jobs and positions of prestige, and our families, for just as it is true that 'leadership and security are basically incompatible', a struggle without casualties is no struggle. We must realise that prophetic cry of black students: 'Black man, you are on your own!' [108]

Given the clear analysis of our problems, the choice is very simple for America in shaping her policy towards present day South Africa. The interests of black and white politically have been made diametrically opposed to each other. America's choice is narrowed down to either entrenching the existing minority white regime or alternatively assisting in a very definite way, the attainment of the aspirations of millions of the black population as well as those whites of goodwill. [158]

Besides the sin of omission, America has often been positively guilty of working in the interest of the minority regime to the detriment of the interests of black people. America's foreign policy seems to have been guided by a selfish desire to maintain an imperialistic stranglehold on this country irrespective of how the blacks were made to suffer. [159]

One does not think this way in political life of course. Casualties are expected and should be bargained for. An oppressive system is illogical in the application of suppression. [201]

The existence of a multiplicity of denominations convinces me of the uselessness of organised worship in investigating man's duty to God. Churches have tended to complicate religion and theology and to make it a matter to be understood only by specialists. Churches have tended to drive away the common man by immersing themselves in bureaucracy and institutionalisatioin. [238]

I can reject all Churches and still be Godly. I do not need to go to Church on Sunday in order to manifest my godliness. Yet I do appreciate that all too often people's moral convictions are reinforced by constant revival meetings. If then I go to Church it is more for this type of limited service than because I regard them as having monopoly on truth and moral judgement. If then my motives for going to Church are bound to be limited expectations I fee free to withdraw without any compunctions if and when my expectations are not met. [238]


  1. Awesome. Even though "Cry Freedom" is a dramatization of his life, I've just got to watch it again...for the 10th time! Thanks for this...

    1. I've heard of that movie but have not watched it.


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