Biko’s Ghost: The Iconography of Black Consciousness

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Black Christians during apartheid South Africa were preached a message of self-condemnation and blaming oneself for misfortune. It made black people point the finger to themselves rather than the oppressive system of apartheid. The emphasis was on personal morality rather than the structural morality of apartheid.

Although personal morality is also important; the landlessness of black people, mass poverty, unemployment and inadequate living conditions are not because of personal sin but structural sin. Biko states that stern-faced ministers stand on pulpits every Sunday to heap loads of blame on black people in townships for their thieving, housebreaking, stabbing, murdering, adultery and so on. No one ever attempts to relate all these vices to poverty, unemployment, overcrowding, lack of schooling and migratory labour.

Jesus in Son of Man was very frank about this when preaching to a small crowd in a house:. If you constantly find fault with yourself, you will lose the struggle against real sin.

Biko's Ghost: The Iconography of Black Consciousness

All authority is not divinely instituted. If you follow me we will have peace. Son of Man A Biko Christ-figure prioritises the core of the societal problems that are not God's will but man-made. The problems in the township were not created by black people but by white people who were greedy economically and institutionalised the poverty and land dispossession there.

A Biko Christ-figure understands that there was a history of colonisation and a distortion of that history by imperialists especially when it comes to the current problems of Africa.

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Jesus in Son of Man preaches to a small group that:. Evil did not fall. A Biko Christ-figure understands that Europe stands today because Africa was plundered of its resources and Africans dispossessed. Jesus in Son of Man knew the importance of land and emphasises it on two occasions as a child and as an adult. The second instance as a child, when children were massacred, Jesus is given an opportunity by the angel to flee with him but Jesus refuses and says this is his land or world.

Jesus in the New Testament was born in first century Palestine which was under the occupation of the Roman empire. Maimela also indicates that Biko was given an emigration opportunity by officials of the United States of America but refused because he did not want to collaborate with those governments which, directly or indirectly, continued to facilitate the survival of the apartheid regime even though he knew his life was in danger. There is a sense of commitment to the land, an attachment. Poverty, unemployment and overcrowding in Africa are a product of colonialism. A Biko Christ-figure values humanity and expresses principles of humaneness towards others.

Biko states that the great powers of the world may have performed wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great gift still has to come from Africa - giving the world a more human face. A human face is that of grace, mercy, love, kindness and care. Jesus upholds that 'each human is important' and material should not have more value than the life of a human being.

When the adulterous woman is chased in the streets and caught by community members who want to set her alight and stone her because she is a 'whore, spreads disease and corruption', they ask Jesus if they should punish her or not. The militia disperses the crowd and Jesus asks the woman where her accusers are?

She responds, 'they are gone'. Jesus tells her to go because he does not accuse her. A Biko Christ-figure believes in the inherent goodness of man. Community takes precedence over the individual because many things can be achieved through unity and solidarity.