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STIAS Lecture Series 2016: Barney Pityana – Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Philosophy: A Contribution to South Africa’s System of Ideas

STIAS Public Lectures Series

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Barney Pityana participating in the STIAS long term project The Effects of Race

Professor Barney Pityana, Professor emeritus in Law at Unisa, Honorary professor, Philosophy Department, Rhodes University and STIAS fellow, will present a talk with the title:

Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Philosophy:
A Contribution to South Africa’s System of Ideas

It is indeed one of the ironies of our time that the influence of the late Bantu Stephen Biko on South African politics is widely acknowledged and yet the party and organisations founded in his name are almost invisible and receive scant electoral support, or even media recognition. How do we explain this?

The purpose of the paper is to explore how ideas are shaped and democratic credentials are formed. Having done that the task will be then be to investigate the various traces or affirmations of the Black Consciousness (BC) ideology in South Africa’s political landscape, especially to examine the claims of BC protagonists in civil society, political organisations like AZAPO, as well as among the emerging brand of student activists as in the Fallism Movement. An analysis of BC theory shows how it does in fact lend itself to less restrictive political and intellectual expression. And yet, BC is most likely to have an enduring effect on South African intellectual life and system of ideas. This will be referenced in the work of philosopher Mabogo More, and various researchers and scholars who have published theses on Steve Biko.

Nyameko Barney Pityana GCOB, is the retired Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa. He is Professor emeritus in Law, as well as honorary professor in the Philosophy Department, Rhodes University, Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics. He is also a Fellow of King’s College London and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), among others. He is a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He serves on the Councils of ASSAf and the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as Secretary General of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). Prof Pityana holds degrees in law from Unisa, and in theology from King’s College London, Oxford University and University of Cape Town where he was awarded a PhD in Religious Studies. He is an admitted Attorney of the High Court in South Africa as well as an Anglican priest. Currently he serves as the President of the Convocation of the University of Cape Town. Professor Pityana has published on Human Rights Law, Higher Education Management and Leadership, Public Theology as well as on the interface of theology, ethics and law.

Date and time

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

13:00 – 14:00​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


No location.

Related to this event


South Africa

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