Biko’s Ghost: The Iconography of Black Consciousness by Shannen L. Hill

By Shannen L. Hill

“When you are saying, ‘Black is Beautiful,’ what in truth you assert . . . is: guy, you're ok as you're; start to glance upon your self as a human being.” With such statements, Stephen Biko turned the voice of Black cognizance. And with Biko’s brutal demise within the custody of the South African police, he grew to become a martyr, an everlasting image of the horrors of apartheid. throughout the lens of visible tradition, Biko’s Ghost unearths how the guy and the ideology he promoted have profoundly prompted liberation politics and race discourse—in South Africa and round the globe—ever since.

Tracing the associated histories of Black awareness and its most renowned proponent, Biko’s Ghost explores the thoughts of team spirit, ancestry, and motion that lie on the middle of the ideology and the fellow. It demanding situations the dominant historic view of Black attention as ineffectual or racially specific, suppressed at the one aspect via the apartheid regime and at the different through the African nationwide Congress.

Engaging theories of trauma and illustration, and icon and beliefs, Shannen L. Hill considers the martyred Biko as an embattled icon, his picture portrayals assuming assorted shapes and political meanings in numerous palms. So, too, does she remove darkness from how Black recognition labored behind the curtain in the course of the Eighties, a decade of heightened renowned unrest and kingdom censorship. She indicates how—in streams of images that proceed to multiply approximately 40 years on—Biko’s visage and the continued lifetime of Black realization served as tools by which artists may possibly wrestle the abuses of apartheid and unsettle the “rainbow country” that followed.

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Clusters of SASO members work to either build or repair a building that suggests its modernity by way of size, clay brick and mortar, glass windows, and what appears to be a higher-­pitched tin roof. These hard-­working SASO members enjoy themselves: every face smiles. 34 Each work in the series sets a black-­and-­white photograph on a black field captioned in white below. The contrast of colors and use of familiar phrases capture our attention. This example recalls Matthew 25:35; it intones “I was hungry” beneath a picture of a child with pleading eyes and worried brow.

5 cm. Private collection. 107 At the time, Sokhaya Charles Nkosi (b. 1949) was finishing a two-­year residency at Rorke’s Drift in Natal, an art center devoted to black education that Swedish Lutheran missionaries founded in 1962. ”108 Christ is a black man in this series, which conflates the traditional rendering of his Passions with the manacles and jail cells familiar to black South Africans at this time. 109 Three of his four limbs are colored black; a nail punctures each one. 34 SHAPING MODERN BLACK CULTURE IN THE 1970S The sharp white lines that radiate from the black hand and black feet reveal the pain he suffers.

A founder of and drummer within Dashiki, Tladi expressed his BC beliefs in an entrepreneurial spirit that always led him to push boundaries. 88 It later merged with the Pelindaba Cultural Ensemble SHAPING MODERN BLACK CULTURE IN THE 1970S 25 to form TUKA Art Unit. Many of TUKA’s members joined the now well-­k nown Medu Art Ensemble, but Tladi was not among them. He chose exile in Sweden and returned to South Africa in 1994. Dikobé Ben Martins (b. 6) and (with Robin Holmes) a T-­shirt for Steve Biko’s funeral.

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