‘Biko’ by Donald Woods

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

Activist and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, Steve Biko was hounded by the South African authorities for his outspoken views on apartheid. Detained, arrested, banned and beaten by security police, Biko died on 12 September 1977. Daily Dispatch editor Donald Woods had become a close friend of Steve’s and when he too was banned, he began to write his account about the life and work of a remarkable man – a task which ultimately forced him to leave South Africa.

First of all, this is not the book version of the movie (‘Cry Freedom’ starring Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline), but is an account that highlights Biko’s political beliefs and views on apartheid that led to his murder in prison. Much of the book is given over to Biko’s speeches, transcripts from court hearings and the eventual inquest after his death. While Donald Woods makes an excellent job of putting over his friend’s personality and political beliefs, details of Biko’s detention and torture are harrowing to say the least. Though I cannot claim to fully understand the political background, this literary portrait of the man himself is fascinating.

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  2 comments for “‘Biko’ by Donald Woods

  1. 17/07/2021 at 6:39 PM

    This sounds like a very interesting book about Steve Biko, Colin. I recently read a South Africa poem about his death.


    • 17/07/2021 at 6:56 PM

      To be honest, it’s less interesting than the movie, but still a great read.


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