On Heritage day the legacy of Stephen Bantu Biko was celebrated when one of the major roads in Gugulethu near Cape Town, NY 1, was renamed as Steve Biko Drive.
Bruce Good, founder of Name Your Hood, an interactive, public campaign to rename significant neighbourhoods in South Africa, stumbled across a reference to two streets in Gugulethu, simply called NY followed by a number, in a newspaper article. Intrigued, he quickly discovered that NY stood for ‘Native Yard’. Stunned that this was still the case so long after Apartheid’s demise, he decided something must be done. With the help of locals, Moshe Apleni and Luvuyo Toni, they initiated a drive to rename all the ‘NY’ streets in Gugulethu.
Major Particia de Lille expressed her excitement at this ‘taking back‘ of the streets of Gugulethu and paid tribute to the late Biko, “We change the term of inferiority: Native Yard to a term of power: Steve Biko.” Premier Helen Zille spoke of the death of Biko 35 years ago and described it as “The worst crime of apartheid against an individual.” She and Biko’s youngest sister Bandi Biko both quoted his now famous words, “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.” ANC councillor Belinda Landingwe saw the positive effect of the name change stating, “The blood of the fallen should not always bear pain”.
Bandi Biko introduced the audience to a different Steve Biko as she remembered their childhood together, telling stories of how he used to eat her guavas and the many pillow fights that ensued as a result of all the Biko children sharing one bed whilst growing up. She also reminisced about how they used to make tea for the elderly and how her brother would always try to find ways to help people in their community. She ended with an emotive, “Thank you! Thank you for naming this street after him.”
The Name Your Hood’s Gugulethu project will get underway in mid-October and is described as “completely transparent and democratic” as local residents will submit their own name ideas, vote and finally name their streets. This process will take place through a variety of platforms on street level and with the support of Vodacom, which will include containers with ‘web boxes’ that look like computer key boards; when plugged into any TV, the user will gain internet access. This will ensure that “every person in Gugulethu will be part of this process, from the councillors to the school children” said a proud Toni.
See more info on Name Your Hood: www.nameyourhood.co.za
Image 1: NY1 now known as Steve Biko Drive
Image 2: Unveiling the new street name. LTR Bandi Biko, Major De Lille, Prem Zille, Councillor Landingwe, Councillor Herron.
Image 3: Premier Helen Zille pays tribute to the late Steve Biko
Image 4: Example of a Vodacom ‘Web Box’
Image 5: Biko family pictured with Major De Lille: Bandi Biko also in red, her son Phumzile Mvovo and his wife Anlele with their daughter Azania.
Image 6: Men in charge LTR Moshe Apleni, Bruce Good and Luvuyo Toni
Image 7: Security guards like George were present at this very well organized event.