Biko may be gone, but his words will live forever

No Fears Expressed: Quotes from Steve Biko is a collection of quotes sourced from Biko’s iconic essays in I Write What I Like and The Testimony of Steve Biko. No Fears Expressed was first released in 1987 and has been rereleased in 2017 by Picador Africa to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Biko’s death. These are some of the choice quotes from the publication.

On Blackness

‘Being black is not a matter of pigmentation- being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.’

On the need for Black Consciousness

‘At the heart of this kind of thinking is the realisation by blacks that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.’

On Liberals

‘. . . in adopting the line of a non-racial approach, the liberals are playing their old game. . . They want to remain in good books with both the black and white worlds. 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.’

On Integration

‘It is an integration in which black will compete with black, using each other as rungs up a step ladder leading them to white values. It is an integration in which the black man will have to prove to himself in terms of these values before meriting acceptance and ultimate assimilation, and in which the poor will grow poorer and the rich richer in a country where the poor have always been black.’


‘The biggest mistake the black world ever made was to assume that whoever opposed apartheid was an ally.’

‘Does this mean that I am against integration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up by and maintained by whites, the YES I am against it.’

On Exploitation

‘. . . tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lovely fruits of wealth, security and prestige it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lie and to accept it as normal that it alone is entitled to privilege.’

On Black Theology

‘. . . I would like to remind the black ministry, and indeed all black people that God is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people’s problems on earth.’

On Economic Order

‘There is no running away from the fact that now in South Africa there is such an ill distribution of wealth that any form of political freedom which does not touch on the proper distribution of wealth will be meaningless. The white have locked up within a small minority of themselves the greater proportion of the country’s wealth. If we have a mere change of face of those in governing positions what is likely to happen is that black people will continue to be poor, and you will see a few blacks filtering through into the so-called bourgeoisie. Our society will be run almost as of yesterday. So for meaningful change to appear there needs to be an attempt at reorganising the whole economic pattern and economic policies within this particular country.’

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