BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS IN SOUTH AFRICA by Millard--Ed. Arnold

BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS IN SOUTH AFRICA

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

These are essentially the words of Steve Biko, the black South African leader killed in detention last year, and constitute his testimony at an exceptional trial in 1976--exceptional because the defense was attempting to disprove the charge that the Black Consciousness philosophy, enunciated by Biko and adhered to by the accused, would bring about racial confrontation without, however, renouncing the philosophy itself. An abridged transcript, occupying over 40 pages in Donald Woods' biography of Biko (p. 361) is the book's high point--dramatic evidence of Biko's intellectual force, his shrewdness, and humor as well as an extended (if necessarily hedged) statement of his aims. (For the defense, he took the line that airing grievances was constructive, affording people hope.) Printed in toto--and, it must be said, in a far less readable form typographically--the transcript fills about 250 pages; it is also preceded by a wordy introduction, running to the sort of ideological rhetoric that Biko eschewed, which untenably dismisses preceding black liberation movements in paying tribute to Black Consciousness: ""It, like no other doctrine before it, uplifted a mass of people, inspired hope and gave purpose and directon to black lives."" But, with its handicaps, this is still an impressive document; open at random and you will find Biko explaining black theater, discoursing on foreign investment, weighing the Bantustan solution--throughout, using the trial as a forum to advance black claims at the very time that he was banned from speaking publicly. In paperback, and reset to read like dialogue, it would be more welcome still.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1978
Publisher: Random House