Black Consciousness

South Africa is a country in the Africa that has experienced European dominance. The rules the missioners and colonizers had established in the country humiliated citizens human rights. As the privileged race, they exploited the work of men and women paying little wages. At the meantime, Europeans discriminated all the races residing in South Africa. However, the twentieth century launched the struggle against the established norms known as apartheid. Fighting for the better future, the history of South Africa distinguishes two leaders with single aim: to return the equality of rights to their people. They were known as Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko. They pushed all their life forces to free the native country, but the implemented approaches significantly differed, and Bikos idea and movement were more effective than Mandelas. In order to reach the set goal, the paper is mainly based on the autobiographical works of both activists examining their childhood, social activity in the established organizations, their visions of the Black Consciousness, evaluation of charisma and leadership traits, and governments reaction to their actions.
1st time order 15% OFF


Primiraly, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is considered as the father of the nation. He was born on 18 July 1918 at Mvezo that was the part of the district of the capital of the Traskei, Umtata. Another South-African leader and activist, Bantu Stephan Biko, was born about forty years later, on 18 December 1946, in Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape. Both of them had many siblings and early lost their fathers. Thus, Mandela was nine years old while Biko was only four. However, their families significantly differed. Mandela was born in a noble family. His father was a wealthy nobleman who possessed herd and land. Additionally, he implemented the duties of the kings advisor or a kingmaker. Mandelas mother was the third fathers wife who belonged to the Right Hand House being the Right Head wife. To the contrary, Bikos parent was an ordinary worker whose labor was exploited. When he died, Bantus mother worked as a servant for the rest of her life to make some earnings for their family. Activists boyhood was a pleasant time which both of them saved in their hearts forever. They recalled those happy moments from childhood fighting for liberties for their people. Thus, Mandela spent a lot of time playing with other boys and girls amusing themselves with different games, making figures of animals out of clay, listening to the stories about the historical legendary times, and so forth. Moreover, the boy gained education observing phenomena and nature around him. At the meantime, Bantu grew a cheerful and lively child. He always made people laugh. Undoubtedly, the boy was clowning and tomfooling sometimes, but people admired his manner of engaging in conversation. Similar to Mandela, he was fond of nature. Experimenting with it brought him much pleasure. In essence, the formations of the future personalities were influenced by different but significant people in their boyhood. After fathers death, Mandela left his home to the Great Palace where he grew up with the regents children. Jongintaba taught him the leaders techniques. In addition, Nelson learnt history, geography, English. The boy regularly attended the church together with other members of the regents family. The boy was hard-working and diligent with his household chores and school duties while Bantu deliberately avoided doing things which he considered boring. Thus, Bikos viewpoints were influenced by his mother. He saw her hard work and refused parties and new clothes because he realized that the family could not afford them. Even if the mother persuaded him not to worry about such things, he could not but took care about his parent. Wilson states that It made a profound impression on him that she labored for such long hours in such underwarding jobs, for very little pay. In fact, he was deeply committed to his mothers welfare. Furthermore, the age of sixteen was a crucial moment for both Mandela and Biko. Nelson underwent the ceremonial ritual that meant an initiation to manhood where the boy ought to represent his courage. After the ceremony, he attained new name Dalibhunga, which could be interpreted as a founder of the Bhunga. However, Nelson did not realize its prophetic role at that time. In fact, the regent pronounced significant words during the ceremony that made an important effect on the young man. He realized that he was not destined to work in the mines.Moreover, the statement had accurately reflected the recent history of the African people all around the country. It established in his consciousness so deeply that Mandela would remember them for all life. At the same age, Biko was arrested for the first time and expelled from the bursary, although he was innocent. That episode had a significant impact on him and his future. He began dreadfully hating authority. Another crucial moment of his life occurred when he was eighteen. Biko began attending a boarding school run by Catholic monks and nuns. In the future, he recalled it as an atmosphere free from government intervention.Thus, the education in the religious environment facilitated his attitude toward church. It had an impact on his steadfast and long-lasting relations with his spiritual father, Stubbs who was a principal of St. Peters College in Alice. Overall, the events occurred in Mandela and Bikos childhood established the fundamental principles of their viewpoints. Thus, Mandela elaborately learned regents lessons of wisdom, patience, and careful listening to peoples problems. Meanwhile, Bikos position was the opposing. He realized that there were white people who sympathized with the black while the authority of the country being black discriminated its citizens. Consequently, his confrontation should be aimed at the changes of the political system.
Read also: “Research Paper”


Both Mandela and Biko formed their social position and began the dynamic social activity in South Africa. They found like-minded comrades in order to struggle against the regime of apartheid in the country. Therefore, in 1940, Mandela joined already existed organization the African Nation Congress (ANC) formed on 18 January 1912. In turn, Biko established South African Students Organization in December 1968. Regarding the ANC, it was formed as a moderate movement. Its essential goal was to improve lives of South African citizens and other non white nationalities whose rights had been discriminated. The current president of the AN C recruited Nelson Mandela and two new members: Walter Sisule and Oliver Tambo. Their collaboration with the organization resulted in formation of the Youth League and implementation of the radical means to challenge the outbreak of the discrimination and racial segregation in the country. Additionally, the first years of their work were known as the time when apartheid was officially established in South Africa. It engaged in the replacement of the customs and laws that allowed racial discrimination with the group of comprehensive laws on race in the state. During that period, the initial attempts to struggle against apartheid launched. As a reaction to events in the motherland, the members of the African National Congress adopted declaration that proclaimed the equality of rights and freedoms for every resident of the country in spite of the race. After the confrontations between different organizations in South Africa that fight against apartheid applying both peaceful and violent means, the ANC officially adopted the right to use violence with the creation of the military wing. It, in turn, reasoned in sabotage. In essence, Mandela, together with his peer leaders, was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. The results of the organizations leaders actions led to its transformation into terroristic establishment. As soon as the ANC attained the military support from Cuba and the Soviet Union, the government changed, and Mandela was released. The new stage in life of the ANC began. In 1994, it won the democratic election being led by Mandela who later became the president of South Africa being elected by the majority of its citizens. Consequently, he concentrated his forces on the establishment of the government of the national unity. Overall, under Mandelas authority, the country shaped new truly democratic spectrums of its further development since his actions led to the final end of apartheid. Considering Bikos social activity, it was marked with his leading role in South African Students Organization (SASO). Its ideas were centered on the group of non-white students in order to make people believe that the organization was racially inclined. Moreover, the students demanded the participation between its black and white members. To the contrary to the standards of Mandelas ANC, SASO proclaimed the principles of the national union open to every student. In his memoir, Biko stated that the organization had been established as a unique formation opposing to the South African apartheid supported by the government. Additionally, SASO differed from the previously established movements of the resistance against discrimination of the black population. Its uniqueness laid in fact that before the creation of the organization, there were no political groups or students units with the black representatives, which possessed the legal allowance for their existence. In fact, SASO filled both of the gaps reacting as a political group to the critical national problems. Therefore, the organization compiled the vast number of projects during its first years of existence. They were centered on the black students interests. However, it replied to the needs of the entire population of the country. Moreover, they accentuated and proclaimed the black identity focusing on the health problems, literacy programs, and others. The major messages SASO emphasized in its projects appealed to the black solidarity. Its leaders supported the idea that they should unify for the sake of the efficient struggle against apartheid, which, in turn, facilitated in gaining the citizenship. Eventually, Bikos students organization was more effective because its functions were aimed at the changes in the society. He realized that the country could improve the living standards of its citizens adopting reforms that would assist in prosperity of every resident despite the color of the skin. Moreover Bikos attempted to establish solidarity and cooperate with other organizations. Meanwhile, the ANC preferred to implement the militant methods which reasoned the violent confrontations between them. As a matter of fact, the ANC possessed laws, but it lacked philosophy while SASO embraced the ideas and outlook that concerned on the principles of Black Consciousness.

Black Consciousness

The movement focused on anti-apartheid policy led in South Africa in the 1960s. This ideology was supported by the various groups and organizations that mainly consisted of students. Steve Biko is considered a major figure in the formation of the philosophy of the Black Consciousness Movement. It referred to the awareness of the black people that they are discriminated and assaulted on the basis of the color of their skin. In turn, they should have been proud of being who they were, their black history and culture. Additionally, they should not be judged in accordance with the norms and values of the white people. The fight of the Black Consciousness Movement was aimed at freeing South African citizens psychologically from their mental perception of themselves as slaves. Its leader longed for changing the blacks attitude toward life. Therefore, the Black Consciousness Movement possessed its own ideological perspective that could be interpreted as eclectic philosophy. In turn, it mirrored the vast number of the conceptual principles and guidelines borrowed from various source, and primarily from Pan Africanism, African socialism, Marxism Leninism, nationalism, and even capitalism. Theology was another integral element of the Black Consciousness Movement. Biko, as a founder of the movement and its philosophy, claimed that the Black Consciousness should be regarded in the scope of two similar problems: racism and black acquiescence. In fact, he defined racism as discrimination by a group against another for purpose of subjugation. Consequently, there could have been no black racism but white because the lacks had initially no power. Additionally, Biko divided white people into two groups: those who were unconscious and conscious racists. The former possessed more liberal and left viewpoints. The activist considered their souls black, but settled in the white skin because they supported black people in their struggle against inequality. Furthermore, Biko distinguished three matters of racism based on fear. The first one included the whites dread toward the blacks. It reasoned in the immense intensification of blatant racism. The second matter comprised the opposite attitude. Namely, it was the blacks fear of white that facilitated in formation of acquiescence with unconscious and conscious racism. Thirdly, the government was afraid of the blacks reaction to the events, since it commonly accounted to the black threat and danger. Finally, Black Consciousness was viewed as a significant element of the integrated non-racial society. The community needed to overcome three essential steps in order to reach their aim. Primarily, both blacks and whites could not share the common consciousness as one nation. Nevertheless, it could occur if the blacks agreed to completely depend on the whites intellect and benefactions. Secondly, there should have been accurately distinguished and eliminated complex of inferiority and superiority. Thirdly, European must have accepted the history and culture of the South African people. The former regarded history of the continent beginning from the seventeenth century after the missionaries and colonialists first arrival to the foreign lands. In addition, they dismissed the culture of the native people. As a result, the renovation of the African identity should have been the inevitable step in the avenue of the restoration of the national consciousness. However, Steve Bikos hard work on creation and establishment of the principles of the Black Consciousness Movement differed from Nelson Mandelas considerations. In this realm, they were not placed in the same political spectrum to each other. The organizations of their parties were aimed at achieving the opposing goals. Being imprisoned in Robben Island Prison, Mandelas supporters practiced the implementation of reforms and strategies struggling with the apartheid while the Black Consciousness Movement was a radical group centered on the achievement of the headstrong victory. In spite of the clashing between Biko and Mandelas organizations, the latter individually respected the members and supporters of the movement. Nelson seemed to cooperate with all the current political thoughts and endeavored to learn more about the Black Consciousness Movement in order to conform to the flow of the changes and remain his efficiency as a leader. As a result, some similarities between them can be defined. While I was encouraged by their militancy, I thought that the philosophy, in its concentration of blackness, was exclusionary, and represented an intermediate view that was not fully mature. Finding himself as an elder statesman, Mandela considered his duty to facilitate the activists in their inclusive ideas. For this reason, both organizations had an opportunity to learn more from their comrades. Mandela, in his turn, could gradually incorporate viewpoints of his organization into the supporters of the Black Consciousness Movement. As a result, the formation of the renewed sense of political vigor within the prison improved and strengthened the anti-apartheid movement. Finally, Mandela and Bikos organizations collaborated intensively, indeed. Despite the existence of heavy disputes between them at times, they worked fruitfully to free South Africa and its people from apartheid.

Leadership Traits and Charisma

Undoubtedly, both leaders possessed striking charisma and outstanding leadership traits. Nelson and Biko had strong character and faith in their crucial role in the countrys fate fighting against apartheid. Their passion to end the violent system and lead the free life caused their desire to give their lives for this idea. Additionally, self-confidence and commanding presence were their crucial features. Although their lives had some differences, their experiences resulted in activists ability to manage conflicts elaborately. Mandela usually listened to all the sides carefully and, at the end, proposed his consensus. (He acquired this capability from the regent at the Great Palace). Biko, in his turn, solved problems and formed relationships if disputes occurred. He attempted to eliminate violence and confronted injustice. Thus, there is one more fact of Bikos higher effectiveness comparing to Mandela was hidden in his ability to lead students. He firmly relied on the youth believing that they were the one who could make changes. To Bikos opinion, the fresh minds were able to confront physical and strong educational background and the deep understanding of the principles of the apartheid government facilitated in their social activity. Meanwhile, Mandela could be defined as a spiritual mentor. Both of them were extraverts. Mandela and Biko were open to new ideas. Nevertheless, Nelson preferably took various opinions into consideration. Meanwhile, Steve strictly followed personal views. All in all, the philosophy of brotherhood and peaceful co-existence were common for the activists. They were always ready to give their hands to others.

Governments Reaction to Mandelas and Bikos actions

Finally yet importantly, the government punished Mandela and Biko for their steadfast social position opposing apartheid. Both of them were caught by police and imprisoned. However, their destinies ended up differently there. Mandela was initially sentenced to five years in prison because of his arrangement of public strikes. In addition, the government convicted the man in the fact that he left country without certain permission. Serving his prison term, Mandela was blamed in conspiracy and sabotage. They gave him a life sentence because of his attempts to overthrow the South African government. Overall, Mandela spend in prison about twenty-seven years. Fortunately, he was freed in 1990 that allowed Mandela to transform his motherland into democratic country, being elected his president for one term in 1994. Meanwhile, Bikos struggle against the government was less successful. At the age of thirty, the police detained him during the outbreak of the revolt. Biko died in prison in several days. Although the government reasoned his death as a hunger strike, the journalist investigation claimed that he had a great number of injuries, especially the brain one. His death caused sorrow in the country. Moreover, it attracted the attention of the foreign public to the situation in the South Africa. As a result, Bikos death meant crackdown of his ideas and the Black Consciousness Movement.


Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko were two outstanding figures in the history of South Africa. In spite of their fervent work and confrontation, Bikos thoughts and actions were considered more effective than Mandelas because he organized the movement based on the philosophy of the Black Consciousness. It clearly presented the principles that would facilitate the blacks to create new country free of apartheid. Eventually, it centered on human consciousness of inferiority should be inevitably changed.