Black Consciousness and Radicalism

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think Tank Africa]

In teaching Black Consciousness, in his 1978 book titled “I write what I like”, South African Anti-Apartheid activist Stephen Bantu Biko left us with these profound words: “The first step therefore is to make the black person come to himself/herself, to pump back life into his/her empty shell, to infuse him/her with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth”.

Today this is what we mean by the inward-looking process, the very definition of “Black Consciousness”.

To teach Africans of black consciousness is simply to remind them of their past history, the type of history that shape their current situation and defines them socially, and to teach them of history is to teach them that there is nothing wrong believing in yourselves as black people.

But black history teaches us that our beliefs in ourselves have made other races jealous and find refuge in apartheid colonialism and black genocide. Even though in history black genocide was attributed to economic reasons as well as religious reasons, racial supremacy was a major element in fuelling such genocides.

Black consciousness is a tool that teaches us that to be black is not a sin, to be black is to belong to this world equally like other races, enjoy the same benefits that mother nature gives to all living species on land, air and water. To enjoy the cultural choices and other choices at our disposal as humans.

No race is naturally superior to any other race, all what we see is a social construction, no tribe is better than any tribe in this universe. To be aware of yourself as a black person, to be aware of your identity is very much important in your social, economic, cultural and political upbringing wherever you are in this universe.

The need for black people to realize that they can succeed in every aspect of their life without identifying with other races is tantamount to the general consciousness of black people; it elevates the concept of black consciousness and creates a solid conscious republic.

It is high time black people realize that to be black is not sinful and that to be black is not to be a child of a lesser god. This is the moment of reawakening of a new consciousness, the re-appropriation of blackness, the rediscovery of what blackness is, to burry all the imposed consciousness and take pride in black independence through unlearning the past consciousness and decolonize the status quo.

Black consciousness helps black people to participate freely as part of the conscious republic. At the centre of black consciousness are the black people. Black consciousness demands high awareness, the awareness of self, awareness of culture, awareness of law, awareness of economics, awareness of religion as well as of politics as far as a black person is concerned.

Black consciousness means that the negro must come to himself/herself, realize his/her abilities, take pride in this realization, pass on this realization to the next negro, and when he/she dies, his/her death should reflect this realization so that his/her soul shall illuminate the next generation of black consciousness.

Black consciousness is the thinking and the execution of this thinking in the liberation of black people and their struggle to achieve black independence.

* This extract was lifted from Mr Shivute Kaapanda’s seminal book titled “The Conscious Republic” published in 2020.