Humanities › History & Culture Memorable Quotes by Steve Biko Wise words from one of South Africa's most prominent activists Share Flipboard Email Print Bfluff / Wikimedia Commons History & Culture African History Key Events American History African American History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Alistair Boddy-Evans History Expert Postgraduate Certificate in Education, University College London M.S., Imperial College London B.S., Heriot-Watt University Alistair Boddy-Evans is a teacher and African history scholar with more than 25 years of experience. our editorial process Alistair Boddy-Evans Updated March 05, 2020 Steve Biko was one of South Africa's most significant political activists, a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid struggle and a leading founder of South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement. Read on for some of Biko's most powerful and inspiring words of wisdom. On the Black Experience "The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves." "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 realization by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression — the blackness of their skin — and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude." "We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man's mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds." "Black man, you are on your own." "So as a prelude whites must be made to realize that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realize that they are also human, not inferior." "The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity." On Political Activism "You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can't care anyway." "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." "Being black is not a matter of pigmentation — being black is a reflection of a mental attitude." "It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step, therefore, is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth." "Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being."