Steve Biko's son Samora received the posthumous honorary doctorate bestowed on the black consciousness leader. Picture: ANA
Steve Biko's son Samora received the posthumous honorary doctorate bestowed on the black consciousness leader. Picture: ANA
Unisa Principal and Vice -Chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya during the prestigious event where black consciousness leader Steve Biko was bestowed with an honorary degree. Picture: ANA
Unisa Principal and Vice -Chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya during the prestigious event where black consciousness leader Steve Biko was bestowed with an honorary degree. Picture: ANA
Internationally renowned speaker, analyst, author and academic Dr Ibbo Mandaza presenting the 18th annual Steve Biko memorial lecture. Picture: ANA
Internationally renowned speaker, analyst, author and academic Dr Ibbo Mandaza presenting the 18th annual Steve Biko memorial lecture. Picture: ANA

Pretoria - Iconic black consciousness leader and martyr of the anti-apartheid Struggle, Stephen Bantu Biko, was on Thursday night bestowed an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy (DLitt et Phil) by the University of South Africa (Unisa) posthumously at a prestigious event in Pretoria. 

The honorary degree was received by Biko's son Samora.

In his acceptance speech elder brother, Nkosinathi, said the honorary degree bestowed on his father was highly significantly because the now-named Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services facility, where Biko died, is just a stone throw from the instruction of higher learning where he was being celebrated on Thursday night. 

"Like cattle that gather at the sight of the fallen, so do we at this venue within a stretch of the arm from Biko's death bed. But unlike cattle, that bellow in pain, we gather in celebration to give a symbolic, triumphant kiss to his spirit. We do so in the hope that this moment ... on our national calendar shall have resuscitative effect on us, the living," said Nkosinathi. 

Read: Unisa to confer posthumous honorary degree on Steve Biko

Struggle songs, clapping and ululation punctuated the joyous event, which was attended by many academics, politicians, business people, government officials and black consciousness adherents from different walks of lives. 

Unisa Principal and Vice -Chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya said the South African higher education sector is at crossroads, bedevilled by a myriad problems. 

"Fellow South Africans, African brothers and sisters, and people of goodwill from all over the world, as we gather here tonight the South African higher education sector is at a crossroads, facing a myriad of social, economic and political challenges," said Makhanya. 

"We are not where we were at the dawn of our democracy and independence in 1994, but most significantly, we are not where we wanted to be. We have not seen the great promise of a liberated, just, prosperous and non-racial society."  

Delivering the 18th annual Steve Biko memorial lecture, internationally-renowned Zimbabwean speaker, analyst, author and academic Dr Ibbo Mandaza said in present day Africa, the scourge of holding onto power remains a major problem. 

His remarks may as well have been aimed at 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 and this week fired his 75-year-old deputy, Emerson Mnangagwa, for allegedly plotting to replace him. Mugabe has arleady announced that he intends to stand to elections next year.

"George Bush served as president in the USA, and on exit from the White House he returned to the oil company ,which the Bush family has owned for more than 200 years," said Mandaza. 

"In Africa you enter the State House, either as a former school teacher, liberation movement bureaucrat or as a security aide with nothing, but the clothes one is wearing ... accumulate wealth during one's tenure as the head of state, and in most cases do everything possible to remain there for life or risk becoming homeless, jailed or exiled that is if you allow yourself to be voted out. 

"When Kenneth Kaunda lost elections to [Frederick] Chiluba in Zambia in 1991, Mobutu of Zaire was ready to remark - 'Kaunda lost the election, how? That is stupid'. But we all know how the Mobutu regime ended, with him dying in exile in Morocco."

Biko, was an exceptional and inspirational leader who changed the course of South African history. He suffered a brain haemorrhage while in the custody of apartheid police and died days later on 12 September 1977.