What Is Black Consciousness Movement In Africa;5 Facts

Black Consciousness Movement.The BLACK struggle against the white domination and apartheid in South Africa.Black theology in South Africa. like African theology in the northern pan of the continent, has been tremendously influenced by the black African struggle against white supremacist domination. As in the rest of Africa, the struggle has been fought on all fronts — political, cultural and religious. But since it is the political and cultural factors that have played the key role in the controversy between African theology and Black theology, investigation of the historical background of South African Black theology will also be limited to these two areas.


When black political activities had seemingly died down following the banning of both ANC and PAC. the inextinguishable spirit of the .African before the European was once again demonstrated. The espousal of African cultural values and black political aspiration gave birth to a new movement and a philosophy that was to be the driving force behind the black struggle.

  • This movement came to change the face of black politics and the life of the Christian church. As a cultural-political movement, this force was to permeate every aspect of the oppressed black community life.
  • With the view to rediscovering black pco-pic’s cultural roots, the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) engaged in cultural activities and embarked on the reinterpretation of black history.
  • Like Ncgritudc and African Personality, the BCM in South Africa also aimed at the liberation of blacks; but unlike the two philosophical concepts, black consciousness conceived of liberation in more holistic terms, affecting every dimension of black existence.
  • BCM was also a more inclusive concept, in that it was able to draw adherents from both intellectuals and the masses of the people and was not limited to a small group of politicized leaders. Black Consciousness provided a bridge that joined together ail the ethnic groups within the black community, it also brought together students from African as well as Colored and Indian constituencies.

Black Consciousness interpreted the South African situation using the Hegelian theory of dialectic materialism. From the thesis of white racism and the antithesis of black solidarity, a new synthesis of true humanity was envisaged —a true humanity without regard to color or race and in which there was no place for power politics.

The South African Students’ Organization (SASO), led by Steve Biko, affectionately called the “father of Black Consciousness/’ defined the concept as “an attitude pf mind and a way of life. First, as an attitude of mind.

Black Consciousness made black people sec themselves as independent and complete in themselves, making them free to express and affirm their full humanity. Black people became aware that “their humanity is constituted by their blackness.

It also made them aware that the strongest tool in the hands of the oppressor was the mentality of the oppressed, for “If one is free at heart, no man-made chains can bind one to servitude, but if one’s mind is so manipulated and controlled by the oppressor as to make the oppressed believe that he is a liability’ to the white man, then there would be nothing the oppressed can do to scare his powerful masters.”

Second, as a way of life, Black Consciousness examined critically the oppressive status quo of the apartheid system by using black values. It addressed itself to the authenticity of black history, culture and religion. It rejected white supremacy and affirmed black humanity. Black Consciousness sought to liberate blacks from both psychological alienation and physical oppression. It insisted that liberation should begin with liberation from the psychological oppression of an inferiority complex and from physical oppression •‘accruing out of living in a white racist society.”**

The means the BCM chose to achieve its objective was that of “conscien-tization.** The Black Theology Project (BTP) was one of the many projects launched bv the BCM to conscience the oppressed black community in its struggle for freedom and full humanity. This conscicntization was concerned about the nature and praxis of the struggle whose goal was to bring “total authentic liberation.Thus with the launching of the project, the BCM proved to contain within its essence the theological seed of resistance to apartheid and of liberation.

by Abdullah Sam
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