Johannesburg - As South Africa again comes together to commemorate the anniversary of Steve Biko's death, the country's leadership has been called out for the "underrecognition" of his contribution to the Struggle.
These were the words of The Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) national chairperson Nelvis Qekema, who spoke on the 41st anniversary of the Black Conciousness Movement leader's death.
Biko died while in police custody at what was known as Pretoria Central Prison on September 12 1977.
Qekema, while extolling Biko and his legacy, said it remained shameful how the late leader remained underrecognised despite the role he played in reviving the Struggle following the banning of the ANC and PAC.
"We are talking about a man who said a lot... he taught self-reliance, self-initiative and self-assertiveness.
"He even told people who hated how they looked, stop doing those things, you are undermining the intelligence of whoever created you black, be proud of your blackness. Those were the types of values Biko instilled but he did not just talk lip-service, he also started opening self-help projects in the black community and the Mzimela Trust Fund for political prisoners and their families.
Qekema then added: "How can you not remember such a person and today, it is a shame that in our country a person who contributed so much... there is a systematic erasure of his name."
Qekema then went on to say that this "systematic erasure" made it all the more important to keep Biko's legacy alive, as it would be difficult to remember him without memorialising him through buildings and the like.
This "underrecognition" did not just refer to Biko, Qekema added, but also applied to the likes of Anton Lembede, Mirriam Makeba and renowned poets James Ranisi Jolobe.
Also speaking of Biko's legacy was his son, Nkosinathi, who said his memory remained alive throughout the country.
"You see it at play within the political formation but most importantly you see it at play as a movement that stretches well beyond the realm of politics and it finds expression in civil society," he told 702.IOL