The Steve Biko Memorial, Ginsberg
Did you know?
'Cry Freedom', the book by Donald Woods and the film by Richard Attenborough, is based on the life of Steve Biko.
The Steve Biko Memorial in Ginsberg, a township of King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, is dedicated to the founder of the Black Consciousness (BC) movement in South Africa.
Steve Biko was born on 18 December 1946 in Ginsberg and in 1966 enrolled at the Wentworth School of Medicine in Durban. At the time the internal struggle against apartheid was led by the white-dominated National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), which he joined.
Black liberals broke away from NUSAS and launched the Black Consciousness-inspired South African Students' Organisation (SASO) in July 1969. In 1972 this became part of the larger Black People's Convention (BPC) – the political arm of BC, with Biko as its spokesman.
Inspired by the American Black Power movement, BC's philosophy was that the struggle for freedom could only be realised if black peopl took control of their destiny and stopped feeling inferior to other races. This immediately struck a chord with black scholars and students, which culminated in the Soweto Uprising that began on 16 June 1976.
This led to a vicious crackdown by the apartheid government, who arrested Biko and many others. On 12 September 1977 he died of injuries inflicted during a beating by security police.
Today, his legacy is kept alive by the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF), which promotes a culture of South Africans becoming the architects of their future through the annual Steve Biko Lecture.
The Foundation was also instrumental in establishing the Steve Biko Memorial, which includes his mother's Ginsberg home that is now a national monument, his office in King William's Town, the Steve Biko Bridge over the Buffalo River, and the Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance, formerly the Ginsberg Cemetery where he is buried.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Steve Biko Foundation
Tel: +27 (0)11 403 0310
How to get here
The Steve Biko Memorial is outside King Williams' Town, approximately 50 km from East London. There are regular flights to East London from all major cities in South Africa.
Best time to visit
The Steve Biko Memorial is open 365 days a year.
Around the area
Visit the Kaffrarian Museum, which boasts a large collection of mammal specimens and fossils. Also take in the beautiful King William's Town botanical gardens.
Length of stay
Give yourself at least half a day to visit the memorial.
Where to stay
King Williams Town has a number of quality guesthouses and B&Bs.