by Nigel Gibson, 1988 (2004)
It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the
struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.
- Frantz Fanon, “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness”
This article was written 16 years ago in 1988 as an attempt to understand what had happened to Black Consciousness as an ideological force ten years after Steve Biko’s death. As a young anti-Stalinist, anti-apartheid, activist in London in the late 1970s I had been energized by the June 16, 1976 Soweto revolt and by Biko’s conception of Black Consciousness. At the time I was impressed by an important pamphlet written by John Alan and Lou Turner, “Frantz Fanon, Soweto and American Black Thought” which articulated the importance of Fanon to Biko’s thought and considered Black Consciousness a new stage of cognition. Like Biko, they considered the Soweto revolt as a concrete expression of that new stage and underscored the importance of revolutionary humanism in Biko’s and Fanon’s thought. The following ten years of revolt against the apartheid regime across the country, which sounded the tocsin for that regime, proved the validity of the hypothesis.
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