Steve Biko

Friends, Africans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to protest about Steve Biko’s death but not to praise him.
The evil that men do live after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it not be with Biko.
The noble Vorster hath told us that Biko was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grieviously hath Biko answered it.
Here under, leave of Vorster and the rest, –
For Vorster is an honourable man;
So are they all honourable men,
Come I to speak at Biko’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Vorster says he was ambitious;
And Vorster is an honourable man.
When that poor have cried, Biko wept:
Ambition must be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Vorster says he was ambitious;
And Vorster is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Vorster spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, -and not without cause
What cause withholds, you, then to mourn
O judgement, thou art fled to Verwoerdish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!-Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Biko,
And I will Not pause until he comes back to me.
But yesterday the words of Biko might
Have stood against the world:
Now lies he there
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O Africans, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Vorster wrong and Botha wrong
Who you all know, are honourable men.
I will not do them wrong;
I rather do myself wrong and you wrong
Than to wrong such honourable men.
O! Pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth;
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers,
Thou art the ruins of the noblest men
That ever lived in the tide
Of times
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds do I prophecy, –
Which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue,-
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all parts of our land
Blood and destruction shall be in so much use;
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers would but smile
When they behold their children quarterd
With the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Biko’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Tiro by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry Havoc, let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell upon the earth
With carrion men groaning for burial.