By Nkosinathi Biko – On behalf of the Steve Biko Foundation I’d like to welcome you all today on what we truly believe is a significant and auspicious occasion – both for the Foundation and the African continent.
The Steve Biko Foundation is honoured to be hosting Professor Alice Walker on her first visit to South Africa. Of course, Professor Walker needs no introduction, especially to those who consider her book “The Color Purple” to be a modern classic that continues to resonate with readers worldwide close to 30 years after it was first published.
Alongside that Pulitzer Prize winning work, Professor Walker is also a poet, short story writer, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher and activist – in short, she embodies everything that Bantu Stephen Biko stood for during his life.
It’s because of Professor Walker’s eloquent articulation of the link between identity, activism and social change that the Steve Biko Foundation asked her to deliver the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture this year. I think you will agree that the title of Professor Walker’s lecture in Cape Town on September 9th – ‘Coming To See You Since I Was Five Year’s Old: An American Poet’s Connection To The South African Soul’ – has all the makings of a memorable event.
The Foundation created The Steve Biko Memorial Lecture as a way to explore the inextricable link between the individual and society; to explore triumphs over inequality; and to speak to contemporary challenges and opportunities facing people of African descent – and Professor Walker follows in the footsteps of other speakers including
Professor Chinua Achebe, President Nelson Mandela, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
We are also thrilled that Professor Walker agreed to host a second public event during her visit to the country – “An Evening with Alice Walker” at the State Theatre – which takes place on Tuesday night, tomorrow. This evening gives Gautengers the chance to see Professor Walker on stage with some of Africa’s most thoughtful and gifted creative talents including Simphiwe Dana and Sibongile Khumalo.
In closing I’d like to encourage everyone to visit our newly refreshed website where you can find out more about the work the foundation is doing in community development. You can go to www.sbf.org.za for that.
I’d like to thank you all for coming today and hope that we see you at one – or both! – of our events. Our gratitude goes to Professor Walker for making the journey out here and giving of her thoughts, knowledge, inspiration and gifts in a way that keeps the important legacy of Bantu Stephen Biko alive.