Steve Biko| Supplied
Steve Biko: Supplied.

A commemoration rally in honour of the late hero will be held at his hometown in the Eastern Cape.

This year’s 57th anniversary of the National Human Rights Day will commemorate the late Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, the ANC said.

But the ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa confirmed that the commemoration rally will be held at Biko’s hometown of King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

Kodwa declined to give further details saying this is a government event and not an ANC rally. However no government statement was issued and no Presidency officials were available to talk about this issue.

Biko died at the age 30 on September 12 at the Pretoria Central Prison, as it was called then, following torture by the security branch after which he was transported naked on the back of police van for more than 1000 km from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria.

Usually in events focusing on Biko, the president and his entourage pay a courtesy visit to Biko’s family home and to his widow Ntsiki at Ginsberg, before attending a laying of wreaths at Biko’s grave down the road and at the Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance in King William’s Town.

Besides the remembrance garden, the post-1994 democratic government honoured Biko by renaming the former John Vorster Bridge in East London after him and erected a statue in front of the East London City Hall. The statue was officially unveiled by the late Nelson Mandela on Biko’s death anniversary on September 12, 1997.

In the same year his statue was unveiled in East London, the former Pretoria Academic Hospital Pretoria was renamed the Steve Biko Memorial Academic Hospital.

Before 1997, the same hospital was known as Dr HF Verwoerd Hospital.

The young hero has since also been honoured with the renaming of several streets in various towns and cities and some university buildings countrywide after him.

Biko, who remained highly adored not only in South Africa but also internationally, founded the South African Students Organisation in the late 60s that eventually gave birth the the Black People’s Convention, which he led until his death.

He inspired many worldwide, particularly the American black resistance and civil rights movement.

March 21 was initially known as Sharpeville Day, in remembrance of the massacre of 69 anti-pass protesters who were mowed down by apartheid police in Sharpeville township in 1960.

The day was later changed by the present government to celebrate the constitutional democracy and culture of human rights born through the fight against apartheid oppression.

Meanwhile, the Pan Africanist Congress will host a Sharpeville March to commemorate the Sharpeville and Langa Massacres on Tuesday.

PAC spokesperson, Tshego Mosala: “This is the most important day of our time as we commemorate the lives of [the] Sharpville 69 and the fight against pass laws. It is important for it to be documented because the true meaning of it has already been distorted by our government,” Mosala said.

She said the event would start with a visit to the gravesides of those who fell during the police shooting on March 21, 1960 before proceeding to the monument erected in honour of the victims.

Mosala said senior members of the PAC and the community would speak on the experiences of the day when police open fire on innocent marchers both in Sharpeville and Langa in Cape Town.


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