Review: Biko: A Biography by Xolela Mangcu

There were many people who sacrificed their lives for the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.  One such man was Steve Biko,Biko: A Biography creator of the Black Consciousness Movement and a gifted leader.  His life was taken by the Apartheid police when he was arrested at a road block and taken to be interrogated and tortured for 22 hours.  Ultimately, he died of severe head injuries in police custody.

He was famous for his slogan “black is beautiful”, which he described as meaning: “man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being”. (Biko, Steve (1986). I Write What I Like. San Francisco: Harper & Row. pp. 103–104.)

Here is the blurb from GoodReads:

“The first comprehensive biography of an exceptional and inspirational leader who changed South African history. As leading anti-apartheid activist and thinker, Biko created Black Consciousness, which has resonance to this day. His death by torture, at the hands of the police, robbed South Africa of one of its most gifted leaders. Biko’s intellectual legacy cannot be overestimated.”

I have always been intrigued by Biko primarily because I find his message of self love very inspiring.  To me his message is one for all of humanity.  I found this book by Mangcu very informative in both the academic and personal areas of Biko’s life.  I learnt a great deal about the struggle from another perspective.  Mangcu writes in such a way that both Biko’s philosophy and life are equally easy and pleasurable to read.  He is eloquent, informative, and I enjoyed reading this book.  I highly recommend this biography to anyone interested in the struggle against Apartheid who is keen to go beyond reading Mandela’s great book A Long Walk to Freedom.  Mangcu’s biography of Biko’s life also has a personal connection as his own brother knew Biko.  There is also a wonderful bibliography of works to carry you further in your reading should you choose to do so.





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