Honoring the Million-Petaled Flower And Steve Biko



“We live on a beautiful and a delightful planet, which is so awesome and so perfect that we wonder at its creation.” — The opening to Prithiraj Dullay’s Humanity on the Road to Extinction?

Early this morning, I half-awoke thinking of Steve Biko, who was murdered in the midst of my raising funds for the fight against South African Apartheid. My mother was born in Johanesburg, and had died shortly before Biko was killed. One of her last wishes was for me to make a difference with regard to the battle that Biko was waging in solidarity with the immiserated souls of her birthplace.

I’ve always felt at home thinking about Steve Biko, but I couldn’t figure out why my family background had come to the fore once I stopped snoring. This is no April Fool’s lead in, though I am writing this on the first of April, 2017. The kind of half-baked dream of Biko the activist — though I couldn’t put together any particulars — resonated very deeply. was very real. Inexplicable, though.

Well, it turns out that South Africa’s Prithiraj Dullay’s article (cited above) was accompanied by another piece on www.countercurrents.org today; see the author’s article on racism. That writing includes

“I was inspired by the philosophy of South African Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko who was murdered by the Apartheid Gestapo-like police in 1977. He forcefully articulated the call for struggle in the late 1960s against the abomination of white supremacy, through a unity of those who were discriminated against on the basis of race/colour. His powerful message was explicit: You are not discriminated because you are African, Coloured or Indian. You are discriminated because you are not white.”

Well, imagine that. [Pause.] There’s no way I could have imagined coming across an article on Biko this morning. But there you have it, some kind of mysterious serendipity kicking in.

The words directly above are followed, later in the article by

“Biko advocated a coming together of the various peoples who shared a discriminatory existence, so as to form a united front against a common adversary. Individual acts of heroism/bravery were fine as expressions of non-compliance, but failed to dent the monolith of unbridled racism.”

In both pieces Dullay cries out for victimized people to move in solidarity with vigor.  Addressing racists, he says,

“You have NO right to determine my destiny at any level.”

And he adds,

“Let us understand and accept that unity is power..”

In his environmentally-centered article, where he asks out loud whether or not we’re on the road to extinction, close to his conclusion he asserts,

“It is time to stop the rape and pillage of the Earth. It is time to use clean technologies to protect the environment and to coax it into giving up its bounties in a sensible and sustainable way. South Africa has the technology, the human expertise and money. It just needs the political will to make the change.”

Both CC postings call for concerned citizens to mobilize so that they can secure significant reins of decision-making power, but — like virtually all other articles dealing with the same theme — no specifics are offered respecting HOW to rally activists together to do so. Ditto for cinematic documentaries which are counterparts, speakers on the lecture circuit who repeat the same facts cited by Dullay today. And the same is true for those who are spotlighted at conferences and summits worldwide.

We are engaged in documenting, discussing and debating ourselves to death. And the generic recommendations of well-meaning souls require some kind of supplement. Folks now need to be walked through how to go about addressing our collective crises anew.

The quote I opened with obliges me to say that the vast majority of people on the planet (certainly the ones in decision-making capacities) do not at all “wonder at its creation.” The creation of what poet Philip Larkin referred to as

“the million-petaled flower/Of being here….” [from The Old Fools]

No, not at all. Rather, youngsters are educated and adults bombarded with life-denying mantras which do guarantee the continuation of racism, and — eventually — our extinction.

The good news, though, is that can be countered. One possible supplement to the fighting the good fight that I alluded to above, can be discussed with me, if you like. In confidence. For I have a “plan for action” which carries the imprimaturs of the late incomparable historian Howard Zinn and a score of high profile international figures.

Its nuts and bolts, however, should not be delineated here initially in such a public forum… where too-easy-access is given to folks who care not at all for flowers. I trust that the regular readers of CC will be curious enough to contact me, and discuss what I want to recommend to honor the legacy of Steve Biko, and writers like Prithiraj Dullay who care deeply about our collective crises.

In private, for starters. Let’s form a core group which is aligned on some supplement, whether or not it’s what I recommend, and — then — in solidarity encourage others to come on board wearing flowers in their hair.

Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He would be honored to speak gratis at any educational institution which makes a request at [email protected]. He lives about one hour south of San Francisco, and — upon request — can host any initial core group meeting which might be appropriate.


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