Stephen Bantu Biko was a man who came up with the philosophy of Black Consciousness, which later led to the formation of the Black Consciousness Movement.
The movement was based on solid ideas of a state of mind and a way of thinking. The ideals were fixed on a black man accepting the way he is and rejecting all systems of oppression.
In the world of today, the youth have denied the vision of Bantu Biko, and are not living up to his legacy.
They have set an unyielding belief that white is superior to black.
The youth reject engagement in debates and political talks. Their ideal consciousness revolves around parties, social affairs and materialistic possessions.
Their vision has been reduced to passing with an average of 43 percent when so many of our leaders have fought against all odds to get rid of Bantu Education which, in those days, had limited the opportunities for a black child.
Black consciousness, for me, means that I am alert and aware of decisions made by people over me, and engage with others in debate.
It means I have an open mind and think critically. It means that, as an individual, I am free and not held captive by anyone; it means I am accepting of my skin colour and hold no other race in higher regard.
Today, many of our young people are trapped in what I see as an identity crisis. We live in a society where one has to prove themselves when conversing with other races, adopting peculiar accents.
We live in a society where it is easier to judge someone with a heavy African accent.
The black youth have created an acceptable way of speaking, where you’re told: “Don’t speak English in Xhosa.”
The real essence of being black has been denied and has resulted in self-rejection. Our black youth are not accepting of their skin.
They have subjected themselves to putting on fake plastic hair, plastic nails, eyelashes and the likes. They see themselves as insubstantial beings, adopting all sorts of facades.
One is mocked when embracing one’s African roots. They tell me I act as if I am a foreigner when I dress in African clothing and show interest in African people.
They cast me off because I remind them of their artificial black character.
Our youth have become encapsulated by their perception of perfection.
They have gone back to those days when black people were still mentally oppressed and had no sense of acceptance or expression.
The power and freedom of our so-called “New South Africa” has been undermined and slowly discarded as the youth don’t show or take pride in learning about their South African history.
Sometimes, I wonder why we call ourselves a new South Africa if the ideologies and principles adopted and created by our long-gone leaders have not been applied.
Most of our youth are still incarcerated and have not reached full self-acceptance.
You ask them about American history and it’s so easy to get answers, in contrast to the blank glares and perplexed faces you get when the question of South African history is brought up.
Steve Biko saw beyond the black skin, and he wanted the black man to change and develop to a mature and cognisant thinker.
He personified what the youth should be like and was a true reflection of what the black consciousness movement stood for.
I look up to him as a true inspiration because he identified the need of self-acceptance in black people.
I am black and my skin colour does not bring me nightmares.
l Mbali Judith Meyers is a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Class of 2012