(1969) SASO Black Students’ Manifesto

Steve Biko memorial, 1977
Steve Biko memorial, South Africa, September 25, 1977
© International Defence and Aid Fund, Courtesy South African History Archive

We, the black students of South Africa, believing that the black man can no longer allow definitions that have been imposed upon him by an arrogant white world concerning his being and his destiny and that the black student has a moral obligation to articulate the needs and aspirations of the black community hereby declare that:

A. We black students are:

1. an integral part of the black oppressed community before we are students coming out of and studying under the oppressive restrictions of a racist education;

2. committed to a more disciplined involvement in the intellectual and physical world and to the consistent search of the black truth;

3. committed to work towards the building of our people and to the winning of the struggle for liberation and guided by the central purpose of service to the black community on every technical and social level.

B. We, therefore, reject the whole sphere of racist education and commit ourselves to:
1. the intellectual and physical development of our community and to the realization of liberation for black peoples of South Africa;

2. the definition that education in South Africa is unashamedly political and we, therefore, believe that black education is tied to the liberation of the black people of the world.

C. We hereby commit ourselves to:
1. the assertion, manifestation and development of a sense of awareness politically, socially and economically among the black community;

2. the belief that black students should maintain a spirit of fraternity amongst themselves, free from the prejudice of white fallacies by virtue of their common oppression;

3. attempting to break away from the traditional order of subordination to whites in education and to refuse to be educated for them;

4. encourage and promote black literature relevant to our struggle;

5. ensure that our education will further the preservation and promotion of what is measured in our culture and our historical experience.

SASO: Statement of Objectives

We, the black students of institutions of higher learning in South Africa believing:
1. that black students in South Africa have unique problems and aspirations pertaining to them;

2. that it is necessary for black students to consolidate their ranks if their aspirations are to be realized;

3. that there is a crying need in South Africa for black students to re—assert their pride and group identity,

Adopt this constitution in the belief that unity and positive reawakening will result among the black students of South Africa.

1. To promote contact and practical co—operation among black students in South Africa.

2. To represent black students nationally and internationally.

3. To establish contact among South African students.

SASO Policy Manifesto
1. SASO is a black student organization working for the liberation of the black man first from psychologi— cal oppression by themselves through inferiority complex and, secondly, from the physical one accruing out of living in a white racist society.

2. We define black people as those who are by law or tradition, politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in the South African society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realization of their aspirations.

3. ASO believes that
a. South Africa is a country in which both black and white live and shall continue to live together;

b. that the white man must be made aware that one is either part of the solution or part of the problem;

c. that, in this context, because of the privileges accorded to them by legislation and because of their continual maintenance of an oppressive regime, whites have defined themselves as part of the problem;

d. that, therefore, we believe that in all matters relating to the struggle towards realizing our aspirations, whites must be excluded;

e. that this attitude must not be interpreted by blacks to imply ‘anti—whitism’ but merely a more positive way of attaining a normal situation in South Africa;

f. that in pursuit of this direction, therefore, personal contact with whites, though it should not be legislated against, must be discouraged, especially where it tends to militate against the beliefs we hold dear.

a. SASO upholds the concept of black consciousness and the drive towards black awareness as the most logical and significant means of ridding ourselves of the shackles that bind us to perpetual servitude.

b. SASO defines black consciousness as follows:

Black consciousness is an attitude of mind, a way life
i. The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity.

ii. The black man must build up his own value systems, see himself as self—defined and not defined by others.

iii. The concept of black consciousness implies the awareness by the black people of power they wield as a group, both economically and politically and hence group cohesion and solidarity are important facets of black consciousness.

iv. Black consciousness will always be enhanced by the totality of involvement of the oppressed people, hence the message of black consciousness has to be spread to reach all sections of the black community.

c. SASO accepts the premise that before the black people should join the open society, they should first close their ranks, to form themselves into a solid group to oppose the definite racism that is meted out by the white society, to work out their direction clearly and bargain from a position of strength. SASO believes that a truly open society can only be achieved by blacks.

5. SASO believes that the concept of integration cannot be realized in an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. Integration does not mean an assimilation of blacks into an already established set of norms drawn up and motivated by white society. Integration implies free participation by individuals in a given society and proportionate contribution to the joint culture of the society by all constituent groups. Following this definition, therefore, SASO believes that integration does not need to be enforced or worked for. Integration follows automatically when the doors to prejudice are closed through the attainment of a just and free society.

6. SASO believes that all groups allegedly working for ‘integration’ in South Africa … and here we note in particular the Progressive Party and other liberal institutions … are not working for the kind of integration that would be acceptable to the black man. Their attempts are directed merely at relaxing certain oppressive legislations and to allow blacks into a white—type society.

7. SASO, while upholding these beliefs, nevertheless wishes to state that black consciousness should not be associated with any particular political party or Slogan.