By Veli Mbele
Dear Mkhulu Biko,
Where do I start? To some of us, you only spring to mind in September each year and to some, you are forever present in our consciousness.
We literally think about you every day and this is not just because of how the sum total of your work has touched us, but also because, our day-to-day reality, forces us to think of you and what you represent.
There are a couple of things I wish to share with you Mkhulu. But before I do so, on behalf of my generation of Black people, let me express my sincerest gratitude for the legacy of critical Black thought and fearlessness that you have bequeathed to us.
It never escapes me that it took a lot for you to build this monumental and enduring legacy. You gave up your studies. You denied yourself the ‘normal’ privileges of youth.
You denied your family the privilege of your presence and watching you blossom. And perhaps most fundamentally, you literally gave your young life in defence of our right to exist and be beings of our own creation, as Black people.
So, thank you for all that you have done for us Mkhulu Biko. I also wish to tell you that, not just in the Anglo-AmeriKKKan dungeon you know as South AfriKKKa, but all over the world, the condition of Black people continues to be one that is characterised by a debilitating state of captivity.
For its own survival, the system of white supremacist-capitalism has been able to co-opt some of us and made us CEOs, presidents, ministers and celebrities, who get periodically celebrated as symbols for a confusing phenomenon called ‘black excellence’.
In spite of this sense of ‘achievement’, we continue to be a race of people whose existence is highly dependent on the charity of other races.
Contrary to your teachings, we as Black people continue to take pride in the languages of the very people who murdered and raped our Ancestors.
We continue to donate the minds of our children for contamination by them, in the name of ‘education’.
We continue to surrender our souls and those of our children to the gods of the tormentors of our race.
And perhaps even worse, on the continent we call our own, where we appear to be in charge of the political management of the state, we as Black people are not using the state to humanise our people, but to dehumanise them.
We use the state to not just fraudulently enrich a select few among us, but also to unleash all manner of terror and death, against our own kind (especially those who dare to speak against the kleptocratic proclivities of Afrika’s political aristocracy).
I am sure by now you have been joined by a young man called Nathaniel Julius. Well, in case you’re wondering how he earned this ‘privilege’.
Just like you, his life was brutally snatched from him by the people referred to as the police. Just like you, he was denied the necessary medical attention that could have possibly saved his life.
Just like you, those who killed him, tried to cover up their dastardly deed.
But perhaps even more tragic is the fact that the manner in which his life was taken from him, epitomises the truth in what you said over forty years ago that “township life alone makes it a miracle for anyone to live up to adulthood”.
Mkhulu, young brother Nathaniel had a condition called Down Syndrome and was holding biscuits at the time he was brutality killed. He was only sixteen at the time of his death Mkhulu.
So Mkhulu I am sure you can deduce from all this that the condition of Black people (your people), has probably gotten worse since your unceremonious departure. I don’t know if my observation is correct, but it feels that way.
To add to all this depression, the movements that claim to be founded on your worldview of Black Consciousness or custodians of your legacy, are themselves not in a healthy state (to say the least).
And because of this, in the context of our time, they are not able to inspire the kind of hope and direction that is synonymous with you and your generation.
But you will also be pleased to learn that your ideas continue to give birth to new groups of young Black people, who every day are doing sincere work that seeks to inspire the kind of hope and direction that you and your generation were able to inspire.
I wish to share a number of other things with you Mkhulu, but I think for now, I should stop here.
As I stated at the beginning of my letter, your selflessness ignited our souls and the flame that is you continues to burn inside some of us.
We will continue to do our best to do the kind of work that brings us closer to realising the mission of black consciousness: the realisation of a state where we as Black people are able to confidently call ourselves beings of our own creation.
Thank you for the courtesy of your audience Mkhulu.I hope to talk to you again very soon. Please do take some time to rest. You have earned the privilege to do so.
Sibonge Mkhulu Biko 🙏🙏
Veli Mbele is an Afrocentric essayist, political historian and secretary of the Black Power Front
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Vernac News.