Steve Biko: UNISA Bestows Posthumous Honorary Degree On Anti-Apartheid Martyr


Steve Biko, South Africa’s renowned leader and anti-apartheid martyr, was on Thursday night, posthumously bestowed an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy (DLitt et Phil) by the University of South Africa (UNISA).

The posthumous honorary degree, conferred on the black consciousness leader at the 18th Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture held in Pretoria, was received by Samora Biko – Steve’s second son he had with his first wife, Ntsiki Mashalaba.

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In his acceptance speech, Samora’s elder brother, Nkosinathi thanked UNISA for the gesture, adding that the honorary award is significant because of the now-named Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services facility, where Biko died, is just a stone throw from UNISA.

This year’s Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture marked the 40th commemoration of his death and the year in which he would have been 70 years old.

The event was also attended by many academics, politicians, business people, government officials and black consciousness stalwarts from different walks of lives, including internationally-renowned Zimbabwean speaker, analyst, author and academic, Dr Ibbo Mandaza.

Delivering the 18th annual Steve Biko memorial lecture, Dr. Mandaza lamented that the sit–tight syndrome by most present-day African leaders is one of the major factors hindering development in Africa.

He called for a change in altitude and also urged African leaders to learn from former US President, George Bush, who served as president and on exit from the White House, he returned to the oil company, which the Bush family has owned for more than 200 years.

“…But in Africa, you enter the State House, either as a former school teacher, liberation movement bureaucrat or as a security aide with nothing, but the clothes one is wearing … accumulate wealth during one’s tenure as the head of state, and in most cases do everything possible to remain there for life or risk becoming homeless, jailed or exiled that is if you allow yourself to be voted out…” Mandaza said as he took a swipe at African leaders.

Although no name was mentioned, it was believed that the renowned Zimbabwean analyst was making a reference to President Robert Mugabe, who at the age of 93, announced that he intends to contest in the next general election.

Already, his party, Zanu-PF has nominated him for the top post and has also expelled his vice – Emmerson Mnangagwa – who is seen as a potential successor.

Vice President Emmerson, 75, was fired as Zimbabwe’s Vice President on Monday after First Lady Grace Mugabe reportedly spoke against him for plotting to take over Mugabe’s government and for being ‘disloyal’.

Speaking also, Unisa Principal and Vice -Chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya expressed dissatisfaction with the myriad problems facing South African universities.

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“The South African higher education sector is at a crossroads, facing a myriad of social, economic and political challenges. We are not where we were at the dawn of our democracy and independence in 1994, but most significantly, we are not where we wanted to be. We have not seen the great promise of a liberated, just, prosperous and non-racial society,” he said.

Born in 1946, Steve Biko spearheaded the Black Consciousness Movement. He, however, died in 1977, from injuries sustained while in police custody.