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I Write What I Like
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I Write What I Like

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,000 ratings  ·  70 reviews
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Like all of Steve Biko's writings, those words testify to the passion, courage, and keen insight that made him one of the most powerful figures in South Africa's struggle against apartheid. They also reflect his conviction that black people in South Africa could not be liberated until they ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published January 4th 2004 by Picador Africa (first published 1978)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tim
I live in the city where he was murdered. Some people here don't like it when i voice the notion that we still bear a collective shame over this. They don't like most of the notions I voice, come to think of it. I read this book in Dublin in 1993, when I spent a year wandering aimlessly around Europe while my country burned. It's hard to believe he was in his twenties when he wrote most of these things. His thinking was way ahead of his time. I find it terribly sad how the ANC never mentions him ...more
Mark
Steven Biko was one of the most famous leaders of the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa. His fight was not only against apartheid, but more specifically against the ill-effects it was having on the mindset of the Africans being subjected to these cruelties. This book is a collection of essays by and interviews with the man who has been called the originator of the Black Consciousness movement. Black Consciousness was a movement designed to help Black Africans relearn to respect t ...more
Busie
Insight into the mind of one of the most inspirational and unique South African struggle heroes. Where others were fighting for freedom, he was trying to free the african mind (decolonsing the mind). It's one of the most beautifully written books and makes you proud of being a South African, challenging you to do better.
Malcolm
On September 12 1977, Steve Biko was murdered by the South African Police in East London [my error - as has been noted, it was Port Elizabeth, but left here so the comments below make sense]: I lived in South Africa at the time and learned more about his death from clippings my mother sent me from our local provincial New Zealand newspaper than anything I read in South Africa – yet many of the white people I knew seemed almost relieved that another threat to their privilege had been set aside. I ...more
Donald
I loved this book. I love Steve Biko and this writing. I read The Sabi which was a personal account of life growing up in South Africa and references were made by the author Brown, to Biko and Ture. So I decided to read this book after reading The Sabi - and I am happy I did. In this book the author states that the time of Biko was never over. And I agree with Brown in her book - "It was never over".

Biko's book affirms the realities of the black experience and how it is incumbent on people to o
...more
Grace
As a black South African born 10 years before democracy, it is only now that I am an adult that I see the effect that apartheid has had on the culture and value system of black South Africans in particular.

This book is an effective lesson to any South African that he is not a victim of his circumstances. Every man has the power to make the choice to change his life. A truly inspirational read.
Chris
Jun 17, 2011 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning more about black liberation in South Africa - the world
This is an exceptional book of Steve Biko's writings. His analysis of apartheid got to the heart of the issue, systemic oppression through racism/white supremacy, and his goal of empowering Black Africans through Black Consciousness took this head on. His writing on integration and the deficiencies it had as an endpoint for Black liberation was one of the few I've ever read that effectively criticized this mode of achieving equality - because it doesn't directly address systemic oppression and s ...more
Rushay Booysen
The founder of the black conscious movement.A composition of speeches and writing of Steve over a number of years.The book reflects on his sentiments what he views as the problem for the black man in South Africa and to a larger extent Africa.For the time it was written i would say it was indeed needed.This book is highly revered in the black conscious circles.I happen to come from the city where Biko was held captive before being transported to Pretoria so the historical context hits straight h ...more
Phumza Ntshotsho Simelane
It was difficult to get into, but I suppose I was not ready for it at that point in time. So I parked it for over a year. When I did finally get into it I was absorbed. My own "Black consciousness" was awakened and I am now a better African than I was. I always say this book should be compulsory reading for our children and subsequent generations, lest they forget who they are. I know it will be compulsory in my home.
Josh
The grandfather of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, this guy deconstructs racism, provides support for affirmative action, and logically annihilates apartheid supremely. Small book, heavy read. He was a giant amongst small-minded racists.
Corey Holmes
He had the charisma of Mandela, the courage of Hani and the intellectual capacity of Sobukwe and Mbeki....Dead before 30 at the hands of apartheid...
Sarah
Read once in university, I decided to re-read I Write What I Like after getting it as a gift from a friend. It remains an absolutely phenomenal collection of ideology penned by the great Steve Biko. He should have been one of the greatest post-apartheid leaders of South Africa, instead he was brutally murdered by the apartheid police. It is such a devastating thought to imagine what South Africa would have looked like if he had lived. I am so glad I re-read this because (with age and experience) ...more
Amari
I bought this book without any idea of what it was about. I liked the title.

I thought I had "race" figured out, especially after some very meaningful discussions over the past couple of years. I had certainly crystallized my own position (though I couldn't articulate it terribly well until earlier this year when I had to and was not entirely successful, which motivated me to truly get it right). But, troubling as it is to be placed in a group of people about whom fundamental things are assumed b
...more
GC
I watched Cry Freedom in 7th or 8th grade, and sort of subconsciously remembered that I had experienced some deep emotional upheaval during the film, and carried the name Biko through the years, though I never expanded my knowledge of the man until I rewatched the film and looked for Donald Woods book. But instead of reading "Biko", I read this. The portrayal of Biko in film always lays heavy just how articulate the man was, and I have found in this small collection of letters and transcripts th ...more
kripsoo
Steve Biko will always be remembered as one of the most outspoken leaders in South Africa's liberation movement Martyred at an early age Biko refusal to keep silent about apartheid was a thorn in the side of an oppressive and immoral regime im privileged to have in my hands a rare collection of Biko writings spanning from the years 1970 to 1979 They cover a wide variety of topics but the core of each one expresses the ardent desire to throw off the yoke of oppression in its varied forms Biko giv ...more
Claire
It took me a long time to read this even though it's a short read but it's simply one of the best books I have read in my life.

I Write What I Like is a compilation of Biko's writings and recordings about Black liberation during Apartheid South Africa, something he didn't get to see in his lifetime. Biko died in police custody.

Biko was a leader of the Black Consciousness Movement, which is painstakingly described in this book. Black Consciousness is a theory, method and practice aimed at Black pe
...more
James Dennett
I'll start by saying I am biased - I'm a huge Biko fan and have admired him since I was a teenager growing up in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

It was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and found them both challenging and moving. An exceptional man with a profound intellect and mind the right attitude to change a nation.

A lot of focus is on Mandela, but in my opinion the greatest South African leader that never was is Steve Biko. Read this book and see what you think.
Meghan
I read select articles from this in World Lit. and fell in love with Biko. Here is someone who, against all odds, fought for what he believed in and didn't care who hated him for it. We had a discussion in class saying how Biko is pretty BA. I can't see how anyone aposed him.
Circle of Hope Pastors
Biko is considered the father of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa. He was murdered by South African police. Although he wrote in the 60's and 70's, his brilliance and vision for dignified communities and a better way of life continue to inspire.
Ntwanano Nkanyane
INSPERETIONAL
Mike
A compelling writer on enduring struggle for consciousness


As a clear formulator of a useful, modern, Black Consciousness for South Africans, Biko is unimpeachable - his criticism of liberal whites is fundamentally sound, that a racist system, in its import, taints the actions of everyone who works within the system as racist. Biko is working out the nuts and bolts of his theory of African advancement and affirmation while working on the front lines of the struggle. The intensity of the struggle
...more
Rawda Hejazy
" The most potent weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed".. Steve Biko will always be remembered as one of the most outspoken leaders in South Africa's liberation movement. An exceptional man with a profound intellect and mind the right attitude to change a nation. Such an inspiration book, added so much more depth to my perception..
Wessel van Rensburg
Illuminating of so many things. Very interesting reading it now with the benefit of hindsight. As I read it two things became clear, Biko did not understand Afrikaner Nationalism, and Afrikaner Nationalists could have learned a lot reading this collection of essays. But then, they were hopelessly too hubristic and racist to do so.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman
On January 8, 2012, the African National Congress, the ruling party of South Africa marked its centenary and to celebrate that I decided to read this book. Though Steve Biko ran parallel organisations, The Black Conscious Movement, which was basically to empower blacks to stand for themselves and fight for what they believe in and its political wing the Black Peoples Convention, he has come to symbolise the South Africa's fight against the barbaric and inhuman attitudes meted by the white minori ...more
Emily
Aug 26, 2007 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in recent African history
Shelves: booksofthepast
I read this book at the beginning of Peace Corps at my boyfriend's suggestion. It was impressive, to say the least. It allowed me some insight into the life and thoughts of Steve Biko, one of South Africa's strongest and most controversial political activists. Biko died in prison, never able to fulfill the possibility of his rising to power in South Africa and becoming a part of the post-apartheid political structure. As a history major, someone intersted in politics, and a Peace Corps volunteer ...more
André
"The liberals are playing their old game.They are claiming a monopoly on intelligence and moral judgement and setting the pattern and pace for the realisation of the black mans aspirations... They want to shy away from all forms of "extremism", condemning "white supremacy" as being just as bad as "Black Power!". They vacillate between the two worlds, verbalising all the complaints of the blacks beautifully while skillfully extracting what suits them from the exclusive pool of white privileges"
Ch
...more
Velile
Jun 30, 2014 Velile added it
The read gave some insight into the man himself and what he stood for. I was inspired by his commitment to a greater good on behalf of his fellow black South African.
Lynette Mashika
I enjoyed reading this book so much. It challenged me a lot with regards to how I think about myself and "my people". It did not have incited me to hate white people, as many people thought the book would, it only instilled in me a greater pride to be me. It also contributed to my consciousness of the inequality experienced by women and how that could be addressed. I would rate this book among the great social theorists as Karl Marx and Frank Fanon-it is revolutionary, and what our women and you ...more
Chris
Two and a half stars. Interesting in many parts, but not always super readable. This book needs a serious update to all the introductions to all the essays, to put things better in context for the current reader (now it puts things in context for the reader in the 80s).

I won't read it again in full, but I may refer back to some essays later. I love that Biko quotes Karl Jaspers--I've never even heard of anyone else I know of actually reading The Question Of German Guilt.

Reading this book has bee
...more
Sipho
Well written, would recommend it to any young person.
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please help me 1 9 Mar 31, 2014 09:45AM  
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Stephen Biko was a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population.

While living, his writings and activism attempted to empower black people, and he was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: "man, you are
...more
More about Steve Biko...
Black Consciousness in South Africa The Testimony Of Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa The Essential Steve Biko Black Viewpoint Conscience noire.

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“I write what I like” 6 likes
“Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society, liberals waste a lot of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal.” 4 likes
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