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Onkgopotse Abram Tiro, beacon of hope

Onkgopotse Abram Tiro. Image credit: SAHO

By Andile Mngxitama

I think of Tiro as a brother of Steve Biko. Tiro and Biko, Brothers in Black Consciousness (BC). These guys rhythm as one.

I read how Tiro got impatient with the Keith Mokoape group. After their resolution was defeated by Biko’s powerful intervention, the Keith group hovered around licking their wounds and whining. Tiro is said to have walked over to them and told them to toe the majority position or leave.

Fast-forward to post his expulsion for that powerful courageous speech at Turfloop, Tiro built the movement that became the Soweto uprising in 1976. He discovered Tsietsi Mashinini and nurtured him. Without Tiro it’s hard to imagine the Soweto revolt.

Here’s the thing. It seems to me that Biko was the philosopher and Tiro, the interpreter in action. It’s like Marx and Lenin. Tiro is more of a Lenin, if we are to use an analogy. He gave BC materiality as a force of action. But this relationship is not linear. We know that the spark that flamed the revolt was Biko’s 6 week testimony during the South African Students Organisation (SASO) trial which ran through May 1976.

So in my mind I think: Biko; Tiro; Biko… in the dialectic of BC as a philosophy of black liberation.

Rea go gopola ongkgopotse…

Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.

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