STEVE BIKO’S PHILOSOPHIES AS NATION-BUILDING CONCEPTS
By Bliss Ndapasowa
Racism will forever haunt the ‘democratic’ South Africa. The phrase ‘Rainbow nation’ has become a comment only on the demographic make-up of the country.
While is it assumed that the expression accounts for unity and oneness, others define it as a perception that ignores the gap between the notion and reality; a reality of ill-distribution of wealth.
These opinions arose as issues of discussion at the Steve Biko National Conference held at Durban University of Technology’s Hotel School.
Facilitated by UMTAPO, a non-profit organization engaging young people in learning, in collaboration with the Durban University of Technology and the Steve Biko Foundation, the forum marked the 37th anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid activist and national icon Steve Biko.
The event, serving as a memorial, was also a discussion aimed at confronting challenges that hinder progress in nation-building.
As he addressed the assembly, President of the International Union of Psychological Science Professor Saths Cooper stated that racism is an artifact of colonial reform, hence limiting nationhood to biological and geographical borders.
“The source of the problem is that anti-racism is not incorporated in South Africa’s legislation. The bill of rights excludes racism hence making it easy to be embraced in recent times,” he said.
Echoing the same point, black consciousness activist and political commentator Veli Mbhele reiterated that nation-building should be guided by land, wealth, race and gender distribution amongst the population for it to be successful.
He declared that if these factors are not taken into account, the concept is irrelevant to the rainbow nation.
UMTAPO representative at DUT Arun Naicker emphasized that the talk should not only be theoretical discourse, but be effectively applied.
The forum was then divided into groups that engaged in constructive debates that would suggest practical methods to assist in confronting hindrances to nation-building.
Dr Rev Delysia Tim, on behalf of DUT, acknowledged the initiative as a tool that caters for general education as part of the student’s curriculum.
“These forums help us to go a long way in molding our students into such leaders (Steve Biko,” she said.