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Biko foundation dialogues about challenges in townships

Mamodima Ndlovu

The father of Black Consciousness Bantu Stephen Biko once said:”The wide-spread vice often found in African townships is a result of the interference of the white man in the natural evolution of the true native culture.”

picture credit: Steve Biko foundation|SONY DSC
Bantu Stephen Biko was a South African anti-apartheid activist and philosopher.

Commemorating his legacy and the 40th anniversary of his assassination, The Steve Biko Foundation will host dialogues around the country themed, ‘Overcoming the Challenges in Township Communities’.

“Townships are still faced by challenges such as protests, poor infrastructure, and poor performing schools. Most of the facilities in those areas are a mess,” said Programme Manager Thando Sipuye.

Part of the agenda includes youth issues such as teenage pregnancy and drug abuse.

The foundation will also use this opportunity to honor the life sacrifice of men and women like Steve Biko who gave their lives for freedom.

Sipuye said the foundation has planned a total of 5 dialogues starting in at the Uncle Tom’s Hall in Orlando West, Soweto on Thursday from 5pm. The other four discussions will take place in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape until December.

He mentioned that as a foundation their main role is in community development hence they have decided to start conversations with affected communities to find solutions.

“These dialogues are the foundation’s critical work towards assisting. Before we do anything, we have to speak about these challenges,” said Sipuye.

He referenced the Steve Biko center in King Williams Town where the community of Biko’s hometown have benefitted through development, intellectual resource, and economic opportunity.

The center comprises of a museum, a restaurant, a conference center, a performing theater, a library, a business center and the Biko Heritage Trail which consists of seven national heritage sites that attract both local and international visitors.

Though the 16-year-old foundation plans to expand, Sipuye said that there are no devices to build similar facilities around the country as such projects require funding.

He also stated that the foundation has not commercialized Biko’s name or face.

“As a foundation, we discourage the use of (Biko’s) legacy for commercial purposes, but sometimes it is out of our control,” said Sipuye.

Part of the panel of speakers is Political Science lecturer and Community Activist Zandi Radebe, Trevor Ngwane who is also a community activist, Writer and Attorney Amelia Vukeya-Motsepe and Brownsense Founder Mzuzukile Soni.

September 12, 2017, marks Steve Biko’s 40th anniversary since his death in custody after being tortured by the apartheid police. Biko’s political and humanitarian work includes being at the forefront of anti-apartheid campaigns such as the Black Consciousness Movement, South African Students Organisations, and The Black People’s Convention. Biko’s main goal was to liberate black people from white domination through the independent organization of black communities and waking the mind of the oppressed by motivating the belief that they are worthy of the benefits of their land.