What was the role of black consciousness movement in south africa during 1970 and 1980


What was the role of black consciousness movement in South Africa during 1970 and 1980

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  1. The role that Black Conscious Movement play in the 1970s -80s can be summarised by its intention to   attack what they saw as traditional white values, especially the “condescending” values of white people of liberal opinion. They refused to engage white liberal opinion on the pros and cons of black consciousness, and emphasised the rejection of white monopoly on truth as a central tenet of their movement. While this philosophy at first generated disagreement amongst black anti-Apartheid activists within South Africa, it was soon adopted by most as a positive development. As a result, there emerged a greater cohesiveness and solidarity amongst black groups in general, which in turn brought black consciousness to the forefront of the anti-Apartheid struggle within South Africa.

    The BCM’s policy of perpetually challenging the dialectic of Apartheid South Africa as a means of transforming Black thought into rejecting prevailing opinion or mythology to attain a larger comprehension brought it into direct conflict with the full force of the security apparatus of the Apartheid regime. “Black man, you are on your own” became the rallying cry as mushrooming activity committees implemented what was to become a relentless campaign of challenge to what was then referred to by the BCM as “the System”. It eventually sparked a confrontation on 16 June 1976 in the Soweto uprising, when 176 people were killed mainly by the South African Security Forces, as students marched to protest the use of the Afrikaans language in African schools. Unrest spread like wildfire throughout the country.

    Although it successfully implemented a system of comprehensive local committees to facilitate organised resistance, the BCM itself was decimated by security action taken against its leaders and social programs. By 19 June 1976, 123 key members had been banned and confined to remote rural districts. In 1977 all BCM related organisations were banned, many of its leaders arrested, and their social programs dismantled under provisions of the newly Implemented Internal Security Amendment Act. In September 1977, its banned National Leader, Steve Biko, died from injuries that resulted from interrogation while in the custody of the South African Security Police.

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