“Biko” is a protest song by British rock musician Peter Gabriel. It is about Steve Biko, a noted black South African anti-apartheid activist.
Biko had been arrested by the South African police in late August 1977. After being held in custody for several days, he was interrogated in room 619 of the Walmer Street prison in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Following the interrogation, during which he sustained serious head injuries, Biko was transferred to a prison in Pretoria, where he died shortly afterwards, on 12 September 1977.
He founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population. Since his death in police custody, he has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement. While living, his writings and activism attempted to empower black people, and he was famous for his slogan “black is beautiful”, which he described as meaning: “man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being”.
It wasn’t until 1990 that this song was first played on South African TV and radio stations. The early ’90s marked the end of the apartheid era in the country.
Read more about Stephen Bantu Biko
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