Two women pass by a poster of Steve Biko. Biko's legacy is as relevant today, 40 years after his murder, as it was in his lifetime,says Mandla Mandela. File picture: Cindy Waxa

We pay tribute to Steve Bantu Biko and his contribution to black consciousness and the liberation of our country. In doing so we acknowledge Nkosinathi Biko and the Biko family for preserving his legacy for generations to come. His legacy is as relevant today, 40 years after his murder, as it was in his lifetime.

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela described Biko as, '"One of the great heroes in the struggle for the liberation of our country". It is easy to understand why, in a world in dire need of conscientising to the plight of the vulnerable and oppressed; a world that has become the playground of war mongers; that is witnessing the displacement of unprecedented numbers of refugees; that is being choked by endemic poverty and loss of hope. 

In celebrating Biko we are reminded of the human capacity for change and our ability to alter the destiny of our country and continent in defiance of the most gloomy prognosis. Biko's legacy reminds us today that we can build the South Africa of our dreams in which our children can live without fear, our elderly in dignity, and our communities can shape and take control of their destiny.

In his lifetime Biko called on all black South Africans to forge pride and unity, to foil the strategy of divide-and-rule, and build confidence in their ability to throw off their oppression. 

Today we are called upon once again to forge pride in our nation, engender unity in our ranks, restore hope amongst the mass of our people and build confidence that we can still develop the country of our dreams – and, like Biko, make history that we and future generations can be proud of.

Most of all, celebrating Biko's legacy allows us to reflect on our progress in developing our own consciousness, of our place in the world, our capacity to shape history, and our relationship with each other and the rest of humanity… for one another, because of and through others.

"In time," to quote Biko, "we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift - a more human face". 

* Zwelivelile "Mandla"Mandela MP is Nelson Mandela's grandson and chief of the Royal House of Mandela.

** Then views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.