Biko Honored With Stamp

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THE legacy of Steve Bantu Biko,  one the best known heroes and anti-apartheid rallying  point is still enduring with South Africans celebrating his remarkable journey of hardship and struggle by pouring new honors on  the towering figure of the anti-apartheid struggle of the turbulent 1970s and 1980s.

To mark the World Postal Day commemorations, South Africa launched the Steve Biko stamp in honor of one the champions of the Black Consciousness movement who left an indelible mark on the political landscape of this giant African country which gained its independence in 1994 after years of a concerted struggle against the apartheid regime.

The occasion was celebrated to mark the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union which is an international organization responsible for co-coordinating the development of postal services worldwide. In 1997, former South African president Nelson Mandela unveiled a statue commemorating the life of anti-apartheid hero, Steve Biko who was killed by apartheid agents on September 13 1997 while in detention.

This high profile ceremony was attended by a broad array of politicians and international celebrities that included US actor Denzel Washington and British rock star Peter Gabriel Biko was a respected writer and fiery speaker who helped found South Africa's Black Consciousness movement which militantly opposed the apartheid regime on the grounds that the white minority government upheld unfair racial divisions and skewed economic policies.

Five anti-apartheid agents –Gideon Nieuwoudt, Ruben Marx, Daantjie Siebert, Jocobus Beneke and Harold Snyman testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and were part of a team that interrogated Biko before he died from bodily injuries. "Inspirational reference is needed so as to make Africans have something that they will refer to as their scientific and historical heritage instead of being mere robots who are ready to consume anything that would have been produced by the first and second world," wrote one Harare-based political commentator. "If Europe had its Newtons, Freuds, Socrates and Darwins where are Africa's godfathers of inventions?

"The dilemma faced by Africa today is that it has become a continent with no history and in the words of the late South African black nationalists, Steve Biko: "A people without a positive history is like a car without an engine' they can't move." All these honors, many black commentators argue, offer a re-corrected version of African history that gives out inspirational reference that instills confidence and black pride.

It's all too easy to forget the contribution of Africa's heroes that have died than the ones we are seeing. Despite the amnesty on Biko's killers, the recent honor offers black people hope and a reason to celebrate the life of South Africa's most respected and admired politician of his own time –Steve Bantu Biko. A book by Biko's friend Donald Woods which formed the basis for the Hollywood film: 'Cry Freedom' and number of songs sung in his honor all have immortalized the life of Biko in the collective memory of not only South Africans but Africans at home and abroad.

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