simphiwe dana: “stand for the fire in your heart”

“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

~ Bantu Steven Biko

It’s 35 years today since Biko was murdered by apartheid security police. The cause for which he died has been sold out by the very leaders who should have been at the vanguard of change he speaks about in this interview from German TV:

Simphiwe Dana sings about the tragedy of the lack of material change for the majority of South Africa’s poor since the transition to “democracy” in 2004:

2 thoughts on “simphiwe dana: “stand for the fire in your heart”

  1. Sarah Jane Linscott just posted this comment about the events surrounding Biko’s death on her Facebook page. I thought I’d share it here to provide some context for the benefit of international readers:

    Steve Biko was killed by the security police on this day in 1977. A noted rabblerouser, with dangerous notions about black consciousness and telling white oppressors where to get off, he was never far from the Special Branch radar. He was in detention and had been taken to Pretoria for the usual round of Special Branch panel beating. Severely assaulted, he was thrown naked into the back of a canary van (Kwela Kwela).

    It has never been fully explained why he was moved between police stations. In any event, during the course of this final journey he died.
    The Soweto uprising of June 16 1976 was fresh in everyone’s minds. Even in those dark dreadful days – the police realised that the killing of a guy who occupied, in certain sections of South African society, a position similar to that of Ghandi, Malcolm X or Moses could get, er, “awkward”.

    So, in time-honoured fashion, a massive cover-up ensued.

    They issued a press release confirming that he had died and that the cause of death was “starvation”. At the time the IRA detainees in Northern Ireland had embarked on hungerstrikes and Bobby Sands had recently died. The special branch then fed this story to the Cabinet who ate it all up like babies in high chairs.

    Everyone, and by “everyone” I mean the press knew it was bullshit. Hugh Murray, who was at the time the Parliamentary correspondent for the Sunday Express, did some digging and eventually broke the story of what had actually happened. Apparently Connie Mulder, Cabinet Minister and Nat Leader in the Transvaal, phoned Hugh in a total fury and swore that he would never speak to him again. A few weeks later when the story was confirmed he phoned Hugh to apologise.

    It is sometimes erroneously reported that Helen Zille broke the story. She was a senior correspondent on the Rand Daily Mail (sister paper to Sunday Express) and was part of the team of journalists who pursued the story which resulted in the Special Branch eventually coming clean.

    Hugh Murray died a few years ago. Helen Zille is head of the DA. Connie Mulder was the centre of the Info scandal which nearly ended his political career but managed (in manner of Tallyrand and Bismarck) to remain active in South African politicis until he died in 1988 of cancer. The security policemen? Probably dead/ living and fishing down the South Coast. Who knows?

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