Lot #180
Steve Biko Typed Letter Signed

Rare letter from the Black Consciousness Movement activist on a suspicious death at the hands of police—a fate he would meet one year later
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Estimate: $7500+


Rare letter from the Black Consciousness Movement activist on a suspicious death at the hands of police—a fate he would meet one year later

South African anti-apartheid activist (1946-1977) at the forefront of the the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s, known for popularizing the slogan 'Black Is Beautiful.' He was severely beaten during an interrogation by police and died of his wounds while imprisoned. TLS signed “B. S. Biko,” one page, 5.75 x 8.5, personal letterhead, January 12, 1977. Letter on the death and inquest of fellow Black Consciousness Movement activist Mapetla Mohapi, who died while in police custody. At this time, Biko was prohibited from leaving King William's Town due to his activities with the BCM. In full: "Re: Mapetla Mohapi. I have been asked by the attorney representing the Mohapi family in the above matter to make myself available for consultations on the 16th January with their counsel as well as attend the inquest which has been set down for the 17th and 18th January. Kindly grant me the necessary permission to enter the premises of the King William's Town Magistrate’s Court on the relevant dates and to attend the consultation which will be held somewhere in King William's Town. I do not as yet know where exactly Mr. Mxenge plans to have the consultation." In fine condition.

Mapetla Mohapi (1947-1976) was the secretary of the South African Students' Organisation and a member of the Black Consciousness Movement. On July 16, 1976, he was detained under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act—the first to be detained under that section—for allegedly transporting young men across the border to Botswana for military training. He was found dead in his cell on August 6th, with jeans wrapped around his neck in an apparent suicide; the police produced a suicide note, which was later shown to be a forgery, lending credibility to the idea that authorities staged his death. His wife sued the police minister, and hoped to involve Biko in the inquest. A year later, Biko would also be detained under Section 6, and ultimately met the same tragic fate.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Art and Literature
  • Dates: #610 - Ended June 16, 2021

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