Today marks the 35th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Bantu Biko in police detention in South Africa on 12 September 1977. Biko was one of the founders of the Black Conscious Movement. As a radical student leader who advocated that Black people must become conscious of their oppression under apartheid and take the lead in resisting that oppression, Biko’s ideas inspired the school students of Soweto who rose up against second rate education in June 1976. His name, the legacy of his ideas and the brutal nature of his death also inspired anti-apartheid solidarity activists around the world. The anniversary of his death was a focus for anti-apartheid activity.
The City of London Anti-Apartheid Group was committed to supporting all progressive tendencies in the struggle against apartheid. The Group supported anti-apartheid fighters from the black consciousness tradition alongside supporters of the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress. Major rallies on the Non-Stop Picket of the South African embassy were regularly addressed by exiled members of the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania, and leading BCM(A) and AZAPO activists such as Strini Moodley and Haroon Patel gave briefings at City Group meetings.
Special pickets of the South African Embassy were held most years on or around 12 September to remember Steve Biko’s murder. In 1991, after the Non-Stop Picket had ended, City Group brought representatives of the BCM(A), PAC and the ANC together for a Biko Day Rally in front of South Africa House. As often happened on these occasions, flowers were woven through the embassy’s gates as a mark of remembrance and defiance.