Today, I woke up a powerful man full of African spirits. My Gods have visited me overnight and reminded me that today it is a big commemoration day – a day for the remembrance of the greatest gifts our ancestors have ever given to us.
I woke up in the morning and in my ears i could hear the sounds of African drums beating none stop. With the drum beats i could hear the voices of the elders singing and calling for the African sun to rise. I could hear the sounds of waters flowing in the rivers and the African bush birds singing “Rise Africa rise!”.
At a distance I saw two men approaching – it was two ghosts. They told me to wake up “It is a big day today“. They told me that I should remind every black man all over the world that African Gods have given us a greatest gifts – but the whiteman took them away.
They told me to tell the children that the Gods have blessed us. The Gods of Africa have given us the greatest gifts any humanity can ever get. But when the perils of evil influences – the whiteman heard that Africans have been blessed with the greatest gifts they emerged from the darkness and took them away.
These greatest gifts were Jemmy Cato, Saxo Joiner and Steve Biko.
They describe Steve Biko as a simple former student leader and the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement which was to empower and mobilize black population against an apartheid regime. But this African child was far beyond just that; he was a gift from the Gods to the African people.
Even though Biko was never a member of the ANC, the ANC has included him in the pantheon of struggle heroes, going as far as using his image for campaign posters in South Africa’s first non-racial elections in 1994. In that year, Nelson Mandela said of Biko: “They had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid.” But Steve Biko was far beyond just a poster campaign boy to lure black people to vote for the new oppressor – to vote for RDPs, social grants and freebies while white people continue to prosper.
Biko wanted the world to know the gains Africans had made since the beginning of life, as well as their plight as second-class citizens in the continent of their birth. I likened Biko as Jemmy Cato who organised and led the Stono Rebellion (sometimes called Cato’s Conspiracy or Cato’s Rebellion). It was a slave rebellion that commenced on September 9, 1739, in the colony of South Carolina. It was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution.
Cato, like Biko, engaged in campaigns to consciountize the African slaves who were blinded and given up on ever freeing themselves from enslavement. He taught them about Pan-Africanist methodology in the absent of books and pens.
He passionately taught the slaves that there would be no white supremacy without black compliance. He insisted to them that they should organise underground to educate and re-educate other slaves, which they should not succumb to enslavement or give up the fight, that they should fight the system of enslavement to its bones. He taught the slaves that they are not a weaker race but a strong one – “that is why white people need us so much”. He said.
This uprising was led Cato and by other native Africans likely from the Kingdom of Kongo, which had been Catholic since 1491. Some of the Kongolese spoke Portuguese. Their leader, Jemmy Cato was a literate slave who led 20 other enslaved Kongolese, who may have been former soldiers, in an armed march south from the Stono River.
Cato and Biko have one thing in common; they did not care if they operate in the dangerous white dominated zones. They mobilized the least they could and built the revolution on from smaller base. They did not care if they get caught, they new that being caught is one of the risks. If got caught the slaves would wander why is he caught – the reason of getting caught is consciousness in itself.
Whoever thinks Biko must just be reduced to a poster figure is wrong. Biko was a threat to international white supremacy project. Another black slave who inspires me like Biko is Saxo Joiner who was lynched in 1744 for speaking with other slaves about their conditions in the plantations. Biko was also lynched for the very same reason – for speaking with the slaves.
This slave named Saxe Joiner was lynched in America in front of everyone. At the time, Saxe Joiner tried to assist the war efforts, but the way he did it infuriated white towns’ people and ultimately resulted in his death.
The lynching was actually used as a severe punishment for slaves. If a white person felt that a slave had committed a severe enough crime they were lynched. The act could have been as tedious as looking at a white woman or man in the eye, or not moving out the path of a white person fast enough or just organizing or speaking with other slaves about their conditions and so no.
Biko was lynched too for speaking with us – the slaves. He is not just a poster figure – he is our hero. Saxe Joiner, like Steve Biko fell victim to lynching – they were slaves who committed crime for speaking to us about us.
Joiner was an unmarried, semi-skilled carpenter in his mid-20s. Although illegal at the time in South Carolina, Joiner had been taught to read and write. What got Joiner in trouble was that he did not hide the fact he could read and write. He wrote letters constantly.
Biko did not hide the fact that he could read and write too – he wrote books. And he got lynched for it. It is illegal for the black man to write black consciousness ideologies and speak about it. You will be lynched by the whiteman or be called a racist – it is lynching.
On Sunday morning, February 19, 1865, Joiner wrote a note to Martha Hix. He told Mrs. Hix not to “grieve” about the loss of her son – Martin Hix. Martin was shot in the head by his owner simply because Joiner has taught him how to read and write. Martin was caught by his owner with many written notes to his girlfriend Mavis. Joiner was caught and punished for it. He was not killed though because they heavily relied on Joiner’s skills in the plantations.
Joiner wrote many letters to other slaves about freedom and consciousness, but the problem was many slaves could not read. He then initiated a secret campaign; to teach other slaves how to read – an act of a serious crime which could result in the perpetrator being lynched if caught. By writing the letters, Joiner was behaving as a devoted slave should behave – to free himself and his people; first from mental slavery and then from total physical slavery. This is an act of Biko in the 70’s. He wrote books for us – the slaves to read and liberate ourselves.
Joiner did not stop his letter writing there. In jail he wrote a note to Miss Baldwin, telling her not to worry because he would protect her as well from his owner Brown Willies. Brown Willies raped and terrorized Miss Baldwin who was married to a deceased Gift Baldwin. Joiner wrote many letters to many slaves – comforting them and giving them the courage that one day things would be ok if they can learn the white man’s way. The act Steve Biko did in the 70’s when he was lynched.
Joiner was arrested for his work – for writing revolutionary letters to about 70 slaves. In many of his letters Joiner was disguising as “Mr. Martin”.
At approximately 9:00 P.M. on the night of March 15, 1865, an armed mob of white men wearing disguises and dressed in Confederate uniforms broke into the Unionville jail. The mob surged into Joiner’s cell after getting the keys, tied the prisoner up, and hauled him outside. Within moments, Joiner was dead hanging from the closest tree.
Steve Biko, Jemmy Cato and Saxo Joiner are one and the same – the gift from African Gods. They were all arrested and lynched by the whiteman.
REST IN PEACE COMRADES!