Thinking of Biko in the time of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented serious questions; not only of a medical-scientific nature, but of a deeply philosophical nature as well. Often, when faced with the unknown—whether in the form of an environmental catastrophe or a general health threat—finding effective ways to overcome our fear of the unknown yields important clues regarding not only the nature of our self-understanding as human beings, but also our all-too-human perceptions of Other(s). While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been especially harsh on people living in conditions of extreme poverty and material deprivation, our collective response has (predictably) proceeded from a position that privileges the interests and lifestyles of the rich, the well-resourced and the politically connected, in a manner that sadly confirms the biblical prophecy: the poor will always be among you. This essay seeks to examine the impact of Covid-19 in South Africa. Its analytic focus proceeds from the perspective of Steve Biko’s conception of Black Consciousness philosophy. It seeks to argue that Biko’s humanist project of liberation offers important insights that can assist us in the normative quest for a society “with a more human face.”
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