Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Steve Biko's grave

In a small cemetery outside King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape you will find the humble grave of one of South Africa's best known anti-apartheid leaders from the 1960s and 1970s, Banto Stephen (Steve) Biko.  Steve Biko was born on 18 December 1946 and founded the Black Consciousness Movement.  On 18 August 1977 Biko was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 and interrogated by officers of the Port Elizabeth security police.  His interrogation included torture and beatings resulting in a coma and major head injury.  On 11 September, police loaded him in the back of a Land Rover, naked and restrained in manacles, and began the 1100 km drive to Pretoria to take him to a prison with hospital facilities.  He died shortly after arrival at the Pretoria prison, on 12 September 1977.

We stopped at the cemetery during the Mini vs Maxi trip on our way from East London and one of my travel companions, Sisa, explained to us why there are a number of stones that were put by people on the grave.  These stones were put there by visitors as a sign of respect to the person buried there, in this case Biko, honoring the deceased person’s memory and sending their soul on the the hereafter.. 

Yesterday was the anniversary of Biko's death which I only realised last night, so I decided to jump ahead on the posts about the Mini vs Maxi trip and do this post today.  Over the years there have been many references to Biko in movies, plays and songs.  There was even a Star Trek star ship called USS Biko.  The following link will take you to one of those songs, Peter Gabriel's song called Biko.

The last picture was taken through the cemetery's gate looking in. 


  1. An interesting piece of history with a very sad ending. Glad you got to stop by here. Especially knowing your attraction to cemeteries. The gate is very artistic.

  2. Yup! Quite a part of our history! I laughed at your comment about Chris! Too True! But he did have fun :)