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I Write What I Like

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  1,471 Ratings  ·  99 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, 244 pages
Published January 4th 2004 by Picador Africa (first published 1978)
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May 08, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 20, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 06, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, re-reads
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
Nov 05, 2013 Donald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2012 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 22, 2011 Busie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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.
Corey Holmes
Dec 21, 2011 Corey Holmes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Jul 23, 2011 Malcolm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apartheid
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
Oct 08, 2007 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The grandfather of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, Biko deconstructs racism, provides support for affirmative action, and logically annihilates apartheid supremely. Small book, heavy read. He was a giant amongst small-minded racists.
Jul 19, 2014 Amari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  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
James Dennett
Apr 24, 2014 James Dennett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rushay Booysen
Jan 08, 2012 Rushay Booysen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2016 Ndumiso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intense read.

As a black youth existing in the same country that this man was morphed in, it really intensified my love for the African self.

A revolutionary writer. It surprises me how well articulated he was and how young he was too. An exceptional life ended at only 30 years of age. His posthumous affect he had on myself any many other people around the world is masterfully strengthened in this book.
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
Apr 21, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
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.
Putuma Gqamana
I was just disappointed by the selected writings in this book. I really did try to find what everybody else was hyping the book about. I failed. That probably makes me 1 of the thousand that really love this book. Sorry, I couldn't help it.
Feb 21, 2009 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 12, 2013 Adetti rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the bulk of this book is under chapter 15; where Steve Biko displays a quantum perception of the apartheid realities in his time. The court cross-examination is really illuminating.
Ntwanano Nkanyane
Aug 09, 2013 Cathie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A difficult book to read, because one had to think carefully over so much said by Steve Biko. A pity that our country lost someone of his stature so young.
Nov 10, 2012 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a beast - To enjoy this you really need the contet of Biko's life - which is NOT in here. Read it if you have already done your research on 70 South African history.
Sep 06, 2014 Kgomotso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Great book still relevant long after his death.
Mar 15, 2016 Szidonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read!
Sep 20, 2014 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 27, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2015 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book originally for the express purpose of using Steve Biko as a companion to a dialogue with Socrates (this was for a school essay). I'd heard of this man often but my understanding of political matters has been sketchy until recently and so I finally tackled him.

What has struck me is his lucidity, humanity and deep analytical skills. This is a man who didn't learn about oppression through reading the odd Buzzfeed article or Guerilla Feminism post - he analysed and deconstructed and
Lekan Kazeem
Jan 19, 2016 Lekan Kazeem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
You really don't know how bad Apartheid was until you read the words of Mandela, Steve Biko & Robert Sobukwe (there are few other freedom fighters but these three i hold in high regards). I didn't know Robert Sobukwe until i went to Robben Island (i'm sure a lot of people don't know him too but he was more respected than Mandela in Africa especially and outside Africa *then* not *now*). The reason for mentioning Mandela & Sobukwe is for people to understand how Biko's phylosophy differs ...more
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  • Biko
  • Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa
  • Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
  • A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Woman Confronts the Legacy of Apartheid
  • My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience
  • Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred
  • No Future Without Forgiveness
  • Ghana: Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah
  • The Trouble with Nigeria
  • Toward the African Revolution
  • The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge
  • A History of South Africa
  • Two Thousand Seasons
  • On the Postcolony
  • Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87
  • The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War
  • A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa
  • Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
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 about Steve Biko...

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“I write what I like” 18 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.” 15 likes
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