Black Consciousness Movement (BCM)

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Black Consciousness Movement Timeline 1903-2009

1903
William Edward Durghardt Du Bois publishes The Souls of Black Folk rejecting the notion that Black people need western values be to accepted as citizens. Du Bois calls for Black Consciousness among all Africans throughout the world.
1919
19 February,  The Pan African Congress is held in Paris, France and is headed by William Edward Durghardt Du Bois. A firm supporter of the ‘Back to Africa’ movement in the United States of America, Marcus Garvey founds the African Communities League and the ‘Black Star Line’ (part of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)), with the intention of ‘bringing home’ the African Americans.
1944
2 April, The African National Congress Youth League is co-founded by Muziwakhe Anton Lembede, its first president.
1945
The fifth Pan-African Congress is held in Manchester, England, shortly after the end of World War II. This a critical event in exposing African scholars to ideas and strategies on seeking independence for African colonies using Black Consciousness ideology. The theme of the congress covers an end to colonial rule and political independence.
1946
18 December, Bantu Stephen Biko born in Kingwilliamstown
1952
October, The Mau Mau Rebellion begins in Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta is arrested by the British colonisers on the suspicion of being the main architect of the rebellion. His Africanist approach is influential on the development of Black Consciousness among South African Black activists.
1955
26 June, The Congress of the People is formed. A Congress Alliance, bringing together the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) results in the adoption of the Freedom Charter at Kliptown.
1957
6 March, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) achieves independence under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah.
1958
December, The Sixth Pan African Congress, held in Africa for the first time, takes place in Accra, Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) under the chairmanship of Kwame Nkrumah.
1959
6 April, Robert Sobukwe and others break away from the African National Congress (ANC) to form the Pan African Congress (PAC). They argue that the Congress Alliance reasserts and emphasises ‘White-imposed racial division’ by organising itself along racial and ethnic lines. Sobukwe believes that the Congress Alliance is shifting from the ideology of Black Consciousness.
The Extension of University Education Act is passed, to channel students into segregated tertiary institutions, providing a breeding ground for the development of black nationalism. The Act made it illegal for white universities to allow black students to be enrolled unless they had special permission from the state.
1960
21 March, The PAC campaign against pass laws, in which people were asked to leave their passes at home and present themselves to be arrested by police, ends with police opening fire on the crowd in Sharpville, killing 69 protesters. In the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre, African students loyal to the African National Congress (ANC) establish the African Students’ Association (ASA), Pan African Congress (PAC) sympathizing students form the African Students’ Union of South Africa (ASUSA), and those loyal to the Non-European Unity Movement (NEUM) form other organisations in the Cape and Natal. However none of these organisations survives long, since identification with banned movements is hazardous, and university authorities are hostile to student political groups. Non-cooperation between peers in different student political groupings makes matters worse.
8 April, The African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) are banned in South Africa.
1963-64
African students begin focussing their attention on the multi-racial National Union of South African Students (Nusas), an outspoken anti-government organisation with a membership drawn heavily from White English-speaking universities, for want of a better vehicle to express their political aspirations.
Steve Biko is introduced to politics as a teenager, when one of his older brothers, Khaya, a student at Lovedale High School, is arrested as a suspected Poqo member and jailed for three months. The South African Police interrogate Steve Biko in connection with his brother’s Pan Africanist activities, and Steve Biko is subsequently expelled from Lovedale. Biko develops a strong antipathy toward White authority, and carries this attitude with him when he enters St Francis College at Marianhill in Natal, a liberal Catholic boarding school and one of the few remaining private high schools for Africans in South Africa.
1964
With the Rivonia trial still in progress, Nusas delegate Martin Legassic attends a student conference in Dar es Salaam, then Tanganyika, at which Nusas is condemned for not being representative of the black majority. This provokes a deep questioning of the role of Nusas within the organisation, with radial elements arguing to cut Nusas ties with its moderate student base and realigning the organisation with the liberation movements.
April, Jonty Driver delivers a speech at a Nusas conference at Botha’s Hill, arguing that the organisation would be weakened if it broke away from its student base, but also saying that idealy, the organisation should be led by black students, and that its political activities were much more important than its involvement in student affairs. Driver’s speech was leaked to the national press and presented as official Nusas policy, and at the next Nusas conference, Driver is censured, marking a rightward shift over the next few years.
Former Nusas students engaged in subversive actiity under the umbrella of the African Resistance Movement are arrested
In the face of strong opposition from rank-and-file members, mostly White, to some of its more "radical" policies, the Nusas shifts rightwards, confining itself to symbolic multiracial activities and protests after-the-fact against government infringements on academic freedom. This marks the beginning of a phase of deep frustration for the small Black membership, as virtually all channels for the expression of anti-apartheid sentiment are closed.
The World Student Christian Federation calls on South Africa’s Student Christian Association to reject segregation, and the SCA withdrew from the federation, eventually leading to a split in the SCA along racial lines, setting the scene for the launch of the University Christian Movement in 1967.
1965
Steve Biko matriculates after finishing his schooling at St Francis College in Marianhill in Natal.
1966
After completing his studies at Marianhill, Steve Biko enters the Natal University’s ‘non-White’ medical school, familiarly known as Wentworth. A vastly talented political analyst, he is soon elected to the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and through the SRC he is drawn into Nusas activities. Biko lives in the Alan Taylor Residence of the university in Wentworth, where African, Indian and Coloured students are housed on an equal basis.
July, Steve Biko attends the annual Nusas Congress as an observer. He impresses the Nusas leadership enormously and is considered for grooming to become the first black president of Nusas, and invited to a Nusas leadership training seminar. At the conference, about a quarter of the delegates are African, Coloured or Indian. The black students put forward a motion to cancel annual fund-raising festivals (rags) unless hey were racially integrated, but the motion is defeated.
late 1966: John Vorster becomes prime minister and vows to curb the activities of Nusas
1967
July, The University Christian Movement (UCM) is formed, mainly by a group of liberal white clergymen, including Basil Moore, a Methodist minister and theology lecturer at Rhodes University and Colin Collins, a Catholic priest who was chaplain to the National Catholic Federation of Students. About 90 students and clergymen attended the founding congress in Grahamstown, many of them black, and an executive committee was elected, with Moore as president. The executive committee included Collins and Winifred Kgware. The UCM established 30 branches over the next two years at universities, seminaries and training colleges.
Steve Biko remains in Grahamstown to participate in the annual Nusas Congress as a Wentworth Delegate. The congress sees bitter reactions from Black students when Rhodes University, the host institution, prohibits mixed accommodation or eating facilities at the conference site. The Black students put forward a motion to suspend the congress until a nonracial venue is found, but the motion is defeated, 42 voting against, and nine in support of the motion. The Black students (led by Biko) begin to question their status within Nusas and consider a black breakaway group.
December, Basil Moore and two black students attend the annual conferene of the American UCM in Cleveland, Ohio. They raise funds that allow the UCM to hire a full-time secretary, buy a car and cover programme costs.
1968
July, At the Annual Nusas Congress, Steve Biko and some of his fellow medical students begin to draw black students into a candid discussion on their second-class role within the union.
The UCM holds its second national conference at Stutterheim, where 60 percent of the delegates are black. Biko, also at the conference, begins to actively promote the idea of an all-black university movement.
August, The UCM’s Colin Collins attends  a conference of the World Student Christian Federation in Finland, saying on his return: "In theology and social action South africa is a geographic and cultural backwater of the world."
Folowing a government veto on the apointment of an African anthropologist, Archie Mafeje, as a lecturer at University of Cape Town, students at Fort Hare boycott the appointment of their new principal, JM de Wet. The ’ringleaders were identified and subject to police questining, with over 300 students suspended by September. Most of these were allowed to return to campus, but  22 were expelled, including Barney Pityana, Kenneth Rachidi, Justice Moloto and Chris Makoditoa.
late 1968, The UCM is barred from holding meetings at Fort Hare, Turfloop, Ngoye and the University of the Western Cape.
During the Christmas recess, a meeting takes place at Marianhill, and is attended by about thirty members of Black University Students’ Representative Councils. From analysing the Nusas experience from this group, Steve Biko finds an encouraging receptiveness to his idea of an all-Black organisation. The name South African Students’ Organisation (Saso) is chosen and plans are laid for a formal inaugural conference.
1969
1 July The constitution of the South African Students’ Organisation (Saso) is adopted at the inaugural conference and Steve Biko is elected president. Other leading party members include: Barney Pityana,Harry Nengwekhulu, Hendrick Musi, Petrus Machaka, Manana Kgware, Aubrey Mokoape, J Goolam and Strini Moodley. Though the new organisation is committed to a philosophy of Black Consciousness, it does not reject the liberalism of Nusas right away.

1969-70

The SA Council of Churches, in collaboration with the Christian Institute, launches a programme for research into the black community, called Study Project for Christianity in Apartheid South Africa (Spro-cas)
1970
Colin Collins of the UCM decides to leave the priesthood.
July, Saso’s first General Students’ Council is convened, where the organisation takes a bolder stance. The organisation encourages contact between SASO and other multi-racial organisations such as the UCM and the Institute of Race Relations, but recognition of Nusas as a "true" national union of students is withdrawn. The term ’black consciousness’ enters Saso discourse, and in July 1971 is set out for the first time in Saso’s Policy Manifesto as follows:
i) "BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS" is an attitude of mind, a way of life;
ii) The basic tenet of Black Consciousness is hat the Blackman mus reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic dignity;
iii) The Blackman must uild up his own value systems, see himself as self-defined and not as defined by others."
The organisation encourages contact between Saso and other multi-racial organisations such as the United Christian Movement (UCM) and the Institute of Race Relations, but recognition of National Union of South African Students (Nusas) as a "true" national union of students is withdrawn. Saso becomes identified with a well-articulated ideology of Black Consciousness.
Mosibudi Mangena enrols as a student at Ngoye, and is exposed to Saso ideas through speeches by Biko, Pityana and Nengwekhulu
Basil Moore publishes a paper, titled "Towards a Black Theology", which is enthusiastically received, and sparks off a Black Theology Project within the UCM, to be co-ordinated by Stnley Ntwasa, a student at the Federal Theological Seminary at Alice. Moore begins to disseminate the works of James Cone, the originator of Black Theology in the United States.
Smangaliso Mkhatshwa provokes controversy in Catholic circles by publishing a Black Priests’ Manifesto,  which sets out the grievances of black priests and calls for the Africanisation of church structures.
August, In an article published in Saso’s newsletter, Steve Biko writes: "The integration they (liberals) talk about...is artificial ... a one-way of course, with the Whites doing all the talking and the Blacks the listening."
1971
January, Biko, speaking at the Abe Bailey Institute in Cape Town, openly criticises the ANC’s policy of political alliances
South African Students’ Organisation (Saso) helps launch Black Community Programmes (BCP).
March, UCM holds a seminar on black theology
April, After Biko, Pityana, Mokoape and Lindelwa Mabandla hold meetings with various black organizations in March, a meeting is held in Bloemfontein with IDAMASA as convener. Representatives of Saso, Idamasa, Asseca, Aica, the YMCA and members of the St Peters Old Boys’ Association. A subsequent meting in Edendale in mid-August produced an agreement to form a confederation of African organisations to promote community development programmes and represent African political opinion.   The Edendale gathering chooses Drake Koka to head an ad hoc committee to convene a follow-up meeting. Ben Khoapa (of the YMCA) and Biko were commissioned to produce a draft constitution for the organisation. At a mid-December conference at the YMCA in Orlando, the Saso bloc push through a resolution in favour of a more overtly political organisation, based on Black Consciousness philosophy, and using its expanded definition of "black". This would result in the launch of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) in July 1972.
July, Saso passes a resolution on Black Theology at its conference in Wentworth, declaring that Christianity in SA has proved to be a support for the status quo and oppression
Saso adopts a policy manifesto, stating the centrality of the Black Consciousness doctrine.
Saso establishes relations with two student funding organisations based in the UK; World University Services and the International University Exchange Fund
After receiving a military call-up, Colin Collins goes into exile.
Strini Moodley and Saths Cooper, members of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) urge other Indian activists to embrace the Black Consciousness ideology. Although there is sympathy among NIC members, they view Saso’s ideology of Black Consciousness as potentially leading to Black racism.
1972
Basil Moore and Stanley Ntwasa of the UCM are banned
Basil Moore, formerly of the UCM, and by now banned, goes into exile.
January, Spro-cas, with money raised by Beyers Naudé from European churches, launches Black Community Programmes (BCP), with Ben Khoapa as director
A book of papers from seminars on Black Theology, titled Essays on Black Theology, published by UCM
29 April, OR Tiro delivers a blistering speech at the Turfloop graduation ceremony, attacking apartheid education and anticipating a movemen of national liberation
South African Students’ Movement (Sasm) launched, a high school-based youth organisation
3 May, Onkgopotse Abram Tiro is expelled from Turfloop, sparking a student boycott of lectures the next day. Eventually, all 1146 students are expelled. Tiro eventually gets a job as a history teacher at Morris Isaacson School in Soweto, but is fired after six months as authorities put pressure on the school, where high school students join the South African Students Movement
12 May, Saso holds formation school at Federal Theological Seminary in Alice, producing the Alice Declaration. The Declaration resolves that students nationwide should close down Black institutions of higher education through lecture boycotts in support of the expelled, Onkgopotse Abram Tiro, from the University of the North (Turfloop)
1 June, every major black campus endorses the strike, eventually leading to Saso being banned on many campuses. The planned reopening of the University of the North (Turfloop) fails. Their grievances go beyond the Turfloop expulsions to reiterate long-standing student complaints about domination by White staff, biased curricula and demeaning campus conditions.
2 June, White students at UCT demonstrate in solidarity with black striking students, and are viciously baton charged by police outside St George’s Cathedral. Press coverage of the white demonstration eclipses the strikes by black students, and newspapers cry out against the Afrikaner treatment of English students at liberal campuses
2-9 June, Themba Sono is ousted as South African Students’ Organisation (Saso) President, in a General Student Council meeting held in Hammanskraal. Sono stands for close co-operation between Saso and some homeland leaders. Chief Gatsha Buthelezi seen by as an undeniable force in South Africa politics. Saso advocates a radical approach towards the homeland leaders, calling them puppets of the Pretoria regime.
The Theatre Council of Natal, a politically committed Indian drama group which included Strini Moodley and Saths Cooper, decides to devote itself exclusively to black audiences.
MDALI (Music, Dance, Art and Literature Institute) formed to combat exploitation by white impresarios
July, Black People’s Convention (BPC) formally launched at a conference in Edendale, with Reverend Mashwabanda Mayatula as interim head and Drake Koka as interim secretary general.
mid-1972, The Schlebusch Commission is appointed to investigate the activities of liberal organisations.
mid-1972, UCM disbands, bequeathing many of its funds to Saso, while its Joburg offices are taken over by BPC.
mid-1972, BPC establishes he Black Allied Workers’ Union (Bawu), which evolved out of the Sales and Allied Workers’ Association which was begun by Drake Koka. Bawu set up offices in Joburg and Durban, espouses Black Consciousness and critises the paternalism of the white-led Trade Union Council of SA.
July, Saso holds a symposium on "Creativity and Black Development", releasing the contents of the gathering in book form soon after.
Saso holds conference in Hammanskraal. After the conference, small groups of Saso members begin to leave the country, crossing the border into Botswana, to join the exiled liberation movements. Saso expels journalists from The Star and The Rand Daily Mail from its conference, because white reporters were sent and also because of the papers’ refusal to use the word “black” in place of “non-white”.
July, The Chatsworth train boycott and a public stance on foreign investment attracts more attention to the Black People’s Convention (BPC).
August, Biko quits his medical studies and becomes a paid staffer at Black Community Programmes (BCP)
September, Bokwe Mafuna, a journalist with trade union experience, tasked with a plan to initiate a national Black Workers’ Council
New Saso-dominated SRC elected at UWC, with a 61% student turnout after a Saso branch begins to operate on the campus, but university authorities refuse to recognise the new SRC and collude with security police who question many students
16 December, BPC holds its first annual congress in Hammanskraal, with delegates from 25 newly formed branches (each having at least 25 members). Winifred Kgware is elected national president. Interim head Reverend Mashwabanda Mayatula’s address calls for economic justice and puts forward reasons why blacks should reject homelands.  BPC’s Constitution declares it intends to preach and popularise the philosophy of Black Consciousness and black solidarity.
December, Activist Mthuli Shezi, who inspired Black Consciousness ideas through his writings and plays, dies. He is pushed beneath a moving train at Germiston Station for standing up for the dignity of Black women who were being drenched with water by a White station cleaner.
1973
January - February, Durban is swept by a wave of spontaneous strikes by Black workers. This prompts reserved acknowledgment from industry, and attracts worldwide publicity. Though none of the Black organisations can claim credit for the strikes, nonetheless the strikes demonstrate the potential for successful industrial action. Many Black radicals consider the possibility of forming a student-worker alliance. The Black People’s Convention (BPC) declares its support for the Durban strikers.
January, Spro-cas and the Christian Institute launch Ravan Press, a publishing house for their books as well as for BC publications such as the Black Viewpoints series and the book-length Black Review (published from 1972 to 1976)
26 February, Eight BC leaders banned: Biko, Pityana, Nengwekhulu, Jerry Modisane, Strini Moodley (then Saso president and publications director), Drake Koka and Saths Cooper of BPC, and Bokwe Mafuna, whose banning scuttles the birth of the BWC. Henry Isaacs, a law student at UWC, becomes acting president of Saso, Tiro becomes permanent organiser and Ben Langa replaces Pityana as secretary general. Bko continues as a field officer of BCP, but moves to King William’s Town because of his banning order.
8 March, In Parliament, Helen Suzman refers to the BC movement as the "ugly stepchild of apartheid’s racism".
BPC national organiser Mosibudi Mangena detained and convicted on charges under the Terrrorism Act, for allegedly trying to recruit two policemen for guerilla training. This forms part of a campaign by the authorities to stop BC activity: printers of BC material are raided, activists are detained and interrogated, Saso and BPC offices are raided and searched throughout the country.
"Black Images" festival featuring mostly Indian performers from the Theatre Council of Natal exhorts audiences to identify themselves as back
Gibson Kente performs How Long?, a political play catering for an increasing receptiveness to "relevant" entertainment
May, BCP forms the National Youth Organisation (Nayo), an umbrella body for regional youth organisations
5 June, UWC’s SRC issues Die Geel Dokument (the yellow document), listing student grievances and calling on authorities to effect reforms. Students hold a mass meeting on 8 June after the administration fails to respond, and security police detain Saso president Henry Isaacs on 9 June . The students erupt in protest and the university is closed down, announcing that all students would have to apply for readmission. At a mass meeting at St John’s Cathedral in Belville on 12 June, students vote to reject the readmission process and call for student/parent committees. The move generates a wave of support from parents, clergy, journalists and graduates nationwide. the protests culminate in a rally at Athlone Athletic Park on 8 July , with a crowd of about 10 to 12 thousand people. Speakers include Gatsha Buthelezi, Sonny Leon and Adam Small (who resigned from his position as an academic at UWC), and Fatima Meer. The rally was the largest political demonstration in SA since Sharpeville. Two days later the university announces that all students will be readmitted, but protests continue, and the university appoints a commission to look into student grievances and replaces the white rector with a Coloured rector.
Shanti, a play written by Mthuli Shezi, is performed in Durban and the Transvaal by the People’s Experimental Theatre (PET) troupe. They also stage Requiem for Brother X, a play inspired by Malcolm X.
September, Bokwe Mafuna and Harry Nengwekhulu cross the border into Botswana, later to be joined by Tiro, Tebogo Mafole of BCP, and Willie Nhlapo. Relations with the exiled liberation movements are strained and the question of BC organisations forming a "third force"  begin to surface.
October, Ben Khoapa banned and put under house arrest
Mangena’s terrorism trial ends in his conviction.
Mid-December, BPC, after a rapid beginning, with 25 branches formed in the first six months, manages to organise only 34 branches by mid-December, reflecting a failure to draw independent African churches, as envisaged earlier in Mayatula’s 1972 speech.
By the end of 1973, a dozen or more leaders have been banned, including all members except one (Winifred Kgware) of BPC’s national executive.
1974
Baleka Kgositsile is active in the Black Consciousness Movement as well as the ANC underground.
February, Tiro is killed by a parcel bomb
25 April, Portuguese dictator Marcello Caetano is toppled, setting off a process of phased transition to the independence of Portuguese colonies, including Mozambique and Angola
Lack of capital for a black-owned newspaper sees the project scuttled, prompting black journalists to form the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ)
The UBJ’s Percy Qoboza succeeds Moerane as editor of The World
September, The Durban branch of Saso announces it will hold a rally to celebrate Frelimo’s impending takeover of power in Mozambique, with Frelimo representatives invited to make speeches at Curries Fountain in Durban. Turfloop was also set to hold a rally, but planned rallies in other centres couldn’t be organised in time. On September 24, Minister of Justice Jimmy Kruger announces a ban on the rallies. On the 25th September, police used dogs and truncheons to disperse several thousands of people gathering to hold a rally outside Curries Fountain in defiance of the ban. At Turfloop students hang posters on the campus, and police break up a large indoor meeting. After interventions by the administration, the staff association and the SRC, police withdraw, but white lecturers driving into campus are roughed up after displaying racist attitudes. On September 27, the university is closed for two weeks, during which time police carry out raids on suspected leaders.
Following the arrest of various Durban Saso activists, Mapetla Mohapi and Malusi Mpumlwana are despatched from King William’s Town to Durban to run Saso’s headquarters. Saso activists in Durban begin cultivating links with the ANC underground in Natal
From late 1974, The ANC shifts focus from Botswana to Swaziland for recruiting new cadres.
By late 1974, 20 activists from Saso, BCP, Bawu and Tecon are banned
December, The Black Renaissance Convention sees 300 representatives of black organisations meet over four days in Hammanskraal. Organised by clergymen Maurice Ngakane of the SACC and Smangaliso Mkhatshwa of SACBC. The meeting brought together representatives of black religious, educational, civic, labour, sports and welfare organisations. Several factors irked BC organisations: the steering committee did not include members of BC organisations, and several officials from homeland administrations were invited, with Collins Ramusi of Lebowa giving the opening address. Saso and BPC arrived in a bloc of about 20 people and steered the convention to adopt a militant declaration of principles, calling for black trade union recognition and sanctions against SA.
1975
January, Thirteen activists who organised the Viva Frelimo rallies, all in detention, are charged with offenses under the Terrorism Act. Eventully only nine are charged after state witnesses leave the country.
February, At the Saso Nine pre-trial hearing, the defendants emerge from the holding cells singing a protest song, waving the Black Power fist and generally behaving in an insubordinate manner.
18 February, Announcement at Turfoop University that all activities of Saso are suspended
March, At another hearing in the Saso Nine trial, the defendants repeat their earlier display of insubordination, and this time scuffle with the police when relatives are prevented from making contact with the prisoners.
Mamphele Ramphele founds Zanempilo Community Health Centre in Zinyoka, outside King Wiliam’s Town
early 1975, The West Rand Administration Board announces that theatre producers will have to submit scripts for review before they can be performed in townships. Gibson Kente’s play Too Late is banned, unbanned and banned again. Three months later, Reverend Mxwandile Maqina’s Give Us This Day ’took Soweto by storm’, according to The World. The play is eventually banned in May 1976.
May, Steve Biko holds a clandestine meeting with Robert Sobukwe and obtains the assurance of the banned PAC leader’s full support in attempts to reunite the ANC and PAC. Biko also begins, through Mapetla Mohapi and Malusi Mpumlwana, to create a dialogue with Griffiths Mxenge and Harry Gwala, senior ANC underground operatives, and with the PAC’s Zeph Mothopeng. Plans to hold a secret meeting by Christmas 1975 had to be aborted.
6 May, The government announces that it will provide free and compulsory education for black children
9 June, Le Grange Commission reports on activities of UCM, defunct since 1972, declaring that as a multiracial organisation it engaged in dangerous activities aimed at violent revolution
25 June, Mozambique becomes independent under Frelimo
August, The trial of the Saso Nine begins, officially designated The State vs Cooper and eight others, at the Pretoria High Court. Accused of conspiring to bring about revolutionary change and inciting anti-white hostility, the trial lasts 17 months
Several key activists from Natal medical School, all members of Saso national executives from 1975 to 1977, are recruitrd by the ANC, initiating "Phase Two" of the BC programme. They take as their task steering BC activists to identify with the aims, ideology and leadership of the ANC.
Mid-December, BPC holds its fourth national conference in King William’s Town. Conference refines the definition of black consciousness to align the BC movement with the ANC’s multiracialism, uses the name Azania to refer to South Africa, and attempts to define the concept of "black communalism". After the conference, Biko, Kenneth Rachidi and Mxolisi Mvovo draw up draft papers on black communalism in preparation for a conference. These papers, known as the Mafikeng Manifesto, and containing policies on BC economic policy, are debated at a symposium in Mafikeng in May 1976.
1976
April, Baleka Kgositsile goes into exile to join the ANC underground
May, Steve Biko testifies for five days at the Saso Nine trial, turning the trial into an open "seminar on the history, aims and principles of Black Consciousness".
13 June, Lindiwe Sisulu is detained
Representatives from Soweto schools meet at the Naledi branch of SASM, and decide to protest on 16 June. The Soweto Students Representative Committee (SSRC) formed to organize the protest
16 June, The Soweto Uprisings begin with about 20 000 students marching in protest against the new language decree and the Bantu Education system. The march turns violent with many students being killed by the South African Police (SAP) . The uprising spreads countrywide, and it is believed that the Black Consciousness movement contributed significantly to the ferment behind the uprising.
19 June, Government Gazette announces that 123 people have been banned as a result of the June 16 revolt. nationwide prohibition on meetings announced
25 June, The death toll in the riots is officially given as 174 blacks and two whites, the number of wounded 1,222 blacks and six whites, the number of persons arrested 1,298. Property damaged or destroyed is officially listed as sixty-seven state owned beer halls and bottle stores, fifty-three administration buildings, thirteen schools, eight state hostels, 154 vehicles, as well as banks. clinics, bus sheds, hostels and factories - public buildings and amenities built up over the previous twenty-five years.
27 June, The National President of the Black People’s Convention declares that riots have ushered in a new era of political consciousness.
Further arson occurs on Langa Post Office and Zimosa school.
July, The Minister of Police imposes a nationwide prohibition of meetings, which is renewed until the end of the year.
6 July, The government announces that teaching in Afrikaans in black schools will no longer be compulsory.
6 July, The South African Government annuls the regulation that African pupils be instructed equally in English and Afrikaans, and issues new regulations leaving the choice of the medium of instruction to school principals, subject to approval by the Government.
August, The police begin arresting black leaders, not only members of the Black Peoples Convention (BPC) and the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), but also members of the Soweto Black Parents’ Organisation.
4 August, Riots erupt again in Soweto and spread to other townships in South Africa. The Minister of Justice again bans public meetings under the Riotous Assemblies Act, until the end of August.
5 August, Mapetla Mohapi dies in detention, police claim he hung himself with a pair of jeans.
23-25 August, A three-day strike is observed in Soweto by between 150,000 and 200,000 workers.
13- 15 September, A second strike call in Soweto leads to absenteeism estimated at 75-80 percent in Johannesburg.
17 October, The township of Soweto flares into violence again. An estimated 75,000 Pounds Sterling damage is caused. Incidents are also reported from Cape Town, Pretoria and Krugersdorp.
21 October, The Minister of Justice J. Kruger says that 697 people are being held for security reasons: 123 under the Internal Security Act; 217 under the Terrorism Act; thirty-four are jailed for their protection as witnesses; 323 are held for cases pending in relation to public security.
18 November, The Cillié Commission into recent riots is given a detailed account of the loss of life and damage to property in the Greater Cape Town area.
15 December, The South African Institute of Race Relations reports that 433 people are known to be still in custody. According to their sources, these comprise fifty-six school children, seventy-two university students, twenty-six student leaders and office-bearers of the South African Students’ Organization and related organizations, twenty-five members of other Black Consciousness organizations, sixteen churchmen, thirty-five teachers and lecturers, fifteen journalists, sixty state witnesses, six trade unionists, thirteen former political prisoners, one member of the Coloured Labour Party and eighty-one who have no known connection with political organizations. Of this total, 102 were in preventative detention, with no charges pending. In addition, according to the SAIRR, 144 people are under banning orders, restricting their movements and prohibiting them from attending gatherings.
Mamphela Ramphele is detained under Section 10 of the Internal Security Act
21 December, The Saso Nine trial ends with the conviction of all defendants, with six sentenced to six year terms and three to five year terms on Robben Island.
29 December, The Minister of Bantu Education announces moves towards the introduction of free and compulsory education for blacks. This is the fifth concession to black demands since the Soweto riots of 16 June 1976. It has also reversed the Afrikaans ruling in schools, suspended the ‘homeland citizenship’ requirement for blacks leasing houses in townships, introduced a home ownership scheme and agrees in principle to give increased powers to Bantu Councils in black areas.
Police announce the release of the last of the 113 detainees held under Section 10 (preventive detention) of the Internal Security Act. Restriction orders are placed on six of those released, including Winnie Mandela.
1977
1 January, Four senior members of the Soweto Students’ Representative Council (SSRC) are arrested.
10 February, The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference decides to uphold the rights of conscientious objectors, expresses its perturbation over reports of police brutality and deaths in detention, calls for an investigation and protests against the provision of legal indemnity for the police. At the close of their conference, a twenty-one point action programme is issued for guidance in future stances to be taken.
11 February, In a ‘Declaration of Commitment’ the Bishops’ Conference states it will promote Black Consciousness in solidarity with all those who work for the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people.
15 February, Between March 1976 and 15 February 1977, a total of eighteen black people have died while in police custody, the causes of death being officially described as suicide, accident or natural causes.
21 March, Steven Biko, former Saso leader, released on 30 November 1976 after temporary detention under security laws, is re-arrested.
27 April, Police confront some 10,000 students demonstrating against rent increases in Soweto and violence ensues. The offices of the Urban Bantu Council in Soweto are attacked. The government later suspends rent increases for one month, pending investigation of alternative financing.
11 May, According to a report by the South African Institute of Race Relations, a total of 617 black persons, of whom it names 558, are known to have died by violence since June 1976 in the townships, including at least eighty five children and youths, of whom fifty three have been shot.
21 May - 22 May, The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, pays a two-day visit to South Africa at the invitation of Harry Oppenheimer. He meets Soweto student leaders, black and white community leaders, newspaper editors and addresses a business dinner. He maintains economic pressure can bring about radical changes.
11 June, It is announced that Security Police have arrested the leader of the Soweto Students’ Representative Council (SSRC), Dan S. Montsitsi in connection with plans to commemorate the Soweto uprisings. Four white students are also arrested.
23 June, Violence erupts in Soweto again and at least 146 arrests are made by the police.
26 July, The ‘Committee of 10’ formed by prominent Soweto residents, and issues a programme for the election of a new community board to have total autonomy in Soweto, including powers to levy taxes and to control education, the police and local elections. The Minister of Justice rejects this and the government remains committed to community councils with limited powers, control being retained by the Bantu Administration Board.
3 August, Dr Motlana, on behalf of the ‘Committee of 10’ repeats the call for non-ethnic elections for an autonomous Soweto city council.
12 September, Steve Biko dies in detention, the 10th in a year, in Pretoria after being tortured and beaten by security police. Magistrate Prins delivered the following verdict:
a) The identity of the deceased is Stephen Bantu Biko, Black man, approximately 30 years old;
b) Date of death: 12 September 1977;
c) Cause or likely cause of death: Head injury with associated extensive brain injury, followed by contusion of the blood circulation, disseminated intravascular coagulation as well as renal failure with uraemia. The head injury was probably sustained during the deceased was involved in a scuffle with members of the Security Branch of the South African Police at Port Elizabeth.
Messages of concern come from, among others, Cyrus Vance US Secretary of State and Dr. Kurt Waldheim, the United Nations Secretary-General.
Baleka Kgositsile goes to Tanzania and becomes the first secretary of the regional Women’s Section of the ANC.
Winnie Mandela is banished to Brandfort in the Orange Free State.
Mamphela Ramphele is banished to rural Northern Transvaal where she forms the Isutheng Community Health Programme.
25 September, Steven Biko’s funeral in King William’s Town is attended by some 15,000 people. Twelve Western diplomats are present, including the American Ambassador.
16 October, A total of 128 members of the United States Congress, from both the Democratic and Republican parties send a written request to the South African Ambassador in Washington urging the government to invite an appropriate international body to examine South Africa’s laws and practices relating to detention and to make recommendations, with special reference to the death of Steve Biko.
19 October,Following a Cabinet decision on 18 October, the government, by proclamation under the Internal Security Act, declared 18 organisations unlawful, arrested some 70 leading Africans, placed a number of people in restriction (inc Donal Woods) and closed down the daily newspaper ’The World’ and its associated ’Weekend World’. The South African Police (SAP) jail dozens of government opponents not previously detained, including The World editor Percy Qoboza. Banning orders are issued to Beyers Naudé and Donald Woods, two prominent Whites who had publicly supported Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). Justice Minister, Jimmy Kruger places bans on all movements affiliated with the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). Along with South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) and Black People’s Convention (BPC) the following organisations are included in the bannings: AASECA, the Black Parents Association, the Black Women’s Federation, the Border Youth Organisation, the Christian Institute of Southern Africa (a multi-racial organisation of anti-apartheid churchmen), the Eastern Province Youth Organisation, the Medupe Writers’ Association, the Natal Youth Organisation, the Transvaal Youth Organisation, the Union of Black Journalists, and the Western Cape Youth Organisation. Person’s arrested included 8 members of the Soweto ’Committee of 10’. The actions provoke worldwide shock and protest.
Banning orders are issued to Beyers Naudé and Donald Woods.
Emergency powers are proclaimed by the government of Venda.
The United States declares that the Carter Administration will be re-examining its relations with the South African government.
24 October, As the United Nations Security Council debate on South Africa opens in New York, a major diplomatic effort begins to deal with South Africa’s severe treatment of its critics and with African demands for mandatory United Nations sanctions.
The Minister of Justice, Police and Prisons receives a report of a police investigation into Steve Biko’s death and a post-mortem report submitted to the Attorney General of the Transvaal and signed by Professor Johan Loubser, Chief State Pathologist, by Professor W Simpson (University of Pretoria) and by Jonathan Gluckman (pathologist appointed by the Biko family) whose findings are unanimous. Death has been caused by extensive brain damage. Biko sustained at least a dozen injuries between eight days and twelve hours of his death.
26 October, The Attorney General of the Transvaal, Jacobus E Nothling, announces that an inquest into Biko’s death will be held, but that he would not institute criminal proceedings. On 28 October the Attorney General of the Eastern Cape, Carel van der Walt, also declines to institute criminal proceedings.
14 November, The Chairman of the Olympic Games organising committee announces that Rhodesia and South Africa will be excluded from the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The inquest into the death of Steve Biko opens in Pretoria. Evidence given concerning the autopsy report is widely reported both locally and overseas.
21 November, A Soweto Action Committee is formed to back the plan for the future of Soweto proposed by the ‘Committee of 10’ most of whose members are in detention.
1 December, Counsel for Steve Biko’s family, Sydney Kentridge, makes his final submission calling for a verdict that Steve Biko died as the result of a criminal assault on him by one or more of the eight members of the Security Police in whose custody he was on 6 and 7 September. During his four hour address Kentridge reserves his most serious criticism for two Security Police officers, Colonel Piet Goosen and Major Harold Snyman and two doctors who examined Steve Biko, Dr Ivor Lang and Dr Benjamin Tucker.
2 December, The fifteen-day inquest into the death of Steve Biko ends with a three-minute finding by the presiding magistrate, Martinus Prins, who rules that no one can be found criminally responsible for his death in detention. The verdict causes deep concern within South Africa and a storm of protest overseas. Shock is expressed by the United States Secretary of State and consternation by the United Nations Secretary-General.
Two members of Steve Biko’s family, as well as eight other blacks, some of them friends of the Biko family, are detained by police in a pre-dawn raid in Soweto.
3 December, The record of the Biko inquest will now go to the Attorney General of Transvaal who can decide whether there should be any further investigation or any other action taken.
8 December, Sir David Napley, President of the Law Society of England (who attended the Biko inquest as an independent observer at the invitation of the Association of Law Societies of South Africa) issues a twenty-five page report on the inquest in which he severely criticises police procedure, evidence and investigation (‘perfuctory in the extreme’). Regarding the magistrate’s findings he is in accord, but adds I do not, however, apprehend that it would have been irregular for the Magistrate to have found that the death was caused by one or more of a group of persons without specifying such persons with particularity’.
6 January, Donald Woods, banned editor of the Daily Dispatch (East London) reaches Britain with his family, having fled South Africa via Lesotho and Botswana. The pro-government Afrikaans press launches a virulent campaign against him: the British and American press in contrast give wide and sympathetic coverage to the story of his escape.
22 January, At a meeting of the newly organised Soweto Students’ League, a decision is taken to continue the students’ boycott of State schools, to call for a national conference to launch a new education system and to take no part in elections to the Soweto Community Council.
26 January, Amnesty International’s detailed report on human rights violations in South Africa is banned. It presents comprehensive documentation on deaths in detention, detention without trial, treatment of convicted political prisoners, bannings and banishment.
At the request of the African delegates, Donald Woods addresses the United Nations Security Council and urges member states to pursue a policy of disengagement from South Africa.
2 February, The Attorney-General of the Eastern Cape states that he will not prosecute any police involved in the arrest and detention of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko.
3 February, Pik Botha announces that the Biko affair had done untold damage to SA’s reputation
27 February, Robert M Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, dies of cancer at the age of 53 and is buried in his home town, Graaff Reinet.
28 February, The Minister of Justice announces that detainees held under security laws will soon he allowed to have monthly visits from doctors and legal representatives.
10 March, Percy Qoboza, editor of the banned newspaper, The World, is released from detention, together with nine other black leaders seized in security raids in October 1976.
21 March, It is reported that about 15,000 students have returned to secondary schools in Soweto and that thirty-two of the forty state-run schools in the townships will re-open by the beginning of April.
23 March Three more detainees are released: the Chairman of the ‘Committee of, Dr. N. Motlana, a member of the Committee, L. Mosala, and Soweto Journalist, Aggrey Klaaste.
12 April, The Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCMA) is formed in London, UK.
late April, The Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) is formed at an inaugural conference at Roodepoort, near Johannesburg. It is open to Blacks, Coloureds and Indians, but closed to Whites. It adopts the slogan of the banned Black People’s Convention: ‘One Azania, one People’ and will oppose all institutions created by the government, from homelands to Community Councils.
4 May, Azapo’s two principal leaders, I. Mkhabela and L. Mabasa are arrested in Soweto. Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu protests and queries why the authorities are so unwilling to listen to the voices of authentic black leaders.
12 September, On the eve of the first anniversary of the death of Steve Biko, police arrest sixteen people including Biko’s brother, his sister and her husband and close friends of the family. No reason is given but police say the arrests are preventive measures covered by the 1977 Internal Security Act.
25 September, The trial begins of eleven Soweto students charged under the Terrorism Act. The 56-page indictment alleges that as officers, members or supporters of the now banned Soweto Students’ Representative Council (SSRC), they conspired to commit sedition and terrorism between May 1976 and October 1977.
20 November, The Bureau of State Security (BOSS) becomes a full portfolio of National Security under the Prime Minister who is now Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and of National Security.
1979
Sisulu’s son Zwelakhe sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in Thami Mkhanazi trial.
African trade unions are for the first time recognised under the Industrial Relations Act.
7 February, Figures released by the South African Institute of Race Relations indicate a fall of 20 percent in political trials in 1978, compared with 1977. Authorities are showing increasing recourse to preventive detention rather than administrative banning of opponents.
9 April, The Botswana government is building a camp to house over 5,000 student refugees from South Africa at Molepolole, thirty-five km. west of Gaborone. This will be a country settlement and not a training camp.
11 May, Eleven Soweto school pupil leaders are convicted of sedition and sentenced in Johannesburg to terms of imprisonment, most of which are suspended, since the accused have already been held for long periods. The charges arise from the June 1976 demonstrations.
29 July, The government is reported to have paid the family of the Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, R65,000 in settlement of claims for his death in custody in 1977. The Minister of Police, Louis le Grange, says the state is not admitting liability and the file on the Biko affair has now been closed.
30 September, Azapo elects new leaders at its first Congress, near Johannesburg. The 200 delegates choose as leader Curtis Nkondo, a former Soweto teacher who resigned in protest against the separate school system for blacks. Azapo declares itself opposed to all institutions created by the government and to the principle of ethnically-based institutions and advocates the creation of a single Parliamentary state.
November The Azanian Students Organisation (AZASO) is formed.
24 December, The Security Police detains the President and six Executive Members of the recently formed Congress of South African Students (Cosas).
1980
March, A campaign is launched for the release of Nelson Mandela. Organisations supporting the campaign include the Soweto ‘Committee of, Inkatha, Azapo, the Labour Party, the Natal Indian Congress and the South African Council of Churches (SACC).
April, The London-based Black Consciousness Movement of South Africa changes its name to the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania.
21 April, The Coloured schools boycott is joined by pupils at a number of Indian schools in Pretoria and Natal. Support is also pledged by Black Consciousness groups.
1983
11 June - 12 June, The National Forum, representing 170 black organisations, holds its first Conference at Hammanskraal near Pretoria. Delegates from political, religious, student and trade union movements unanimously adopt a manifesto identifying racial capitalism as the real enemy and pledging to establish a Socialist republic. Azapo predominates: absent are movements subscribing to the Freedom Charter adopted by the ANC and its allies.
1984
10 December, Three leaders of the anti-apartheid United Democratic Front (UDF) and two Azapo officials are freed from jail, the UDF and Azapo report. South Africa announced the withdrawal of detention orders against 14 leading opponents of its racial discrimination policies but immediately charges six of them with treason.
1985
30 January, The South African Medical and Postal Council is ordered to hold an inquiry into the conduct of doctors that treated the Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, who died at the hands of the security police in 1977.
5 July, Two white medical doctors are found guilty of misconduct by the Medical Council in the 1977 death of Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko.
October, Dr. Benjamin Tucker is struck off the roll for disgraceful conduct over the death in detention of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko in September.
31 December, Government extends orders, in force since March, prohibiting anti-government groups from holding meetings, for another six months. Initially, they affected 29 organisations in 18 districts. In June they were extended to 64 organisations and 30 districts. Now 10 more groups linked to UDF and Azapo are added.
 Clashes occur between supporters of the UDF, Azapo and Inkatha throughout the year.  A State of Emergency comes into force. Cosas is banned. The Soweto Parents Crisis Committee (SPCC) is formed to address the education crisis.
1988
Azapo and the Azanian Youth Organisation (Azayo) are banned. Black Consciousness members leave the country and others join the African National Congress (ANC) in exile, where they undergo military training in several countries, many in the Soviet Union.
1989
December, An all-inclusive black political conference is held with the main groups being the Mass Democratic Movement and the Black Consciousness Movement. The Conference adopts the Harare Declaration which sets out pre-conditions for negotiations and outlines a new constitutional future.
1990
2 February, Bans on all political organisations are lifted.
1991
The Azanian Student Convention (AZASCO) is launched at the Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA), Pretoria.
1994
The African National Congress (ANC) and Azapo agree on a task force to look at the issue of land possession and Black empowerment.
January, Azapo launches an anti-election campaign as the party feels the ideology of Black Consciouness has not been addressed.
9 October, The Black Consciousness Movement of Azania merges with Azapo. BCMA chairman Mosibudi Mangena is elected president of Azapo at its eleventh national congress.
1997
28 January, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirms newspaper reports that five former security police officers confessed to the 1977 murder of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, and have made a formal amnesty application.
1998
Azapo and Tiro’s family organise the exhumation of Tiro’s remains and returned to his birtchplace, Dinokana, for reburial
21 March, A newly formed party claiming to be the legitimate custodian of Black Consciousness, the Socialist Party of Azania is formed. Sopa is formed by a breakaway group from Azapo.
2000
Mamphela Rampele joins the World Bank in Washington as managing director responsible for human development.
2003
1 February, “On the occasion of the commemoration of the life of Onkgopotse Abraham Tiro” by Bokwe Mafuna in Meadowlands, Soweto.
2009
April 22, Azapo participates in the 2009 election for seats in the National Assemble and the Provincial Legislatures. It gets one seat in the National Assembly.

Last updated : 06-Sep-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 20-Mar-2011