On the anniversary of Steve Biko’s death – 12 September 1977 – the Review of African Political Economy journal posts an interview with Mosa Phadi titled Understanding Steve Biko:Race, Class and Struggle in South Africa. In the interview, she talks about how Biko’s black consciousness was influenced by other important thinkers of his time, like Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, and what his ideas did for the psyche of black people during apartheid. She is also critical of how Biko’s ideas played into the ideals of a bourgeouis democracy, but describes him as a catalyst that moved people – a light to spark action.
“Even though he wasn’t a traditionalist who believed in fixed cultures, he was very aware of the role cultural norms and values play for everyday Africans in their everyday lives. For instance, he knew religion was important to people and his spiritual outlook moved beyond Christianity and incorporated ideas of ancestors. He talked about how music can enlighten the wounded soul, he tapped into daily experiences realizing the potential of everyday culture to radicalize and galvanize people into action. When you read him, he sparks the radical spirit in you to say: ‘yes, we can fight the system, yes we have the right to fight the system.”
In the interview, Phadi also looks at the political and economic climate in South Africa today, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the failures of the ANC and the possibilities of a solution through working-class struggle.
Dr Mosa Phadi is a PARI researcher and is interviewed by Remi Adekoya, ROAPE.