The Story of an Unlikely Friendship

“Black is commonly associated with negatives.” – Steve Biko

cry freedomCry Freedom was a cultivating film about a newspaper editor who changes his opinion of Steve Biko after he meets him.

Donald Wood’s opinion doesn’t just change; he goes above and beyond to make sure the world knows Steve Biko’s story.

Like many of the other South African leaders, I had never heard of Steve Biko before this film. I was amazed at how Biko could capture the attention of so many, and inspire nonbelievers so quickly. Steve Biko was a man of courage and change. Although I was not in South Africa at the time of his death, by just watching it I felt discouraged and even confused.

The movie began with the police raid of the Crossroads Township. This was an illegal township near Cape Town. This scene did a great job in showing the brutality committed by the South African police. It also showed how the government can easily cover it up. On the radio, the announcer said that there was no resistance to the raid and that the inhabitants voluntarily presented themselves to the police. This was a lie.

Donald Woods was a South African news editor. His view on Apartheid was that it was wrong; however in the beginning he disagrees with Steve Biko and his actions as well. He  believes Biko is a racist, and does not condone either black or white supremacy.

When Steve takes Donald into the township for the first time, I’m sure Donald was overwhelmed because that is how I felt watching. steve biko and donald woodsChildren ran scared in the dark and people would literally kill for a little bit of money, even if it were a child. Steve described to Donald that when a black child leaves the township and sees how whites live, they think and realize that there is something wrong with them, something with their blackness. Steve Biko doesn’t just want blacks to integrate into white life. Steve Biko wants blacks to be able to be themselves, not what whites want them to be. This scene was important because it showed Donald Woods, a wealthy white South African, that Steve Biko and his followers are not racists; they are human just like him and are fighting for their rights and the end of apartheid.

Another scene hat captivated me was the soccer scene. When the usual announcer spoke, people listened, but they talked amongst themselves and the soccer players continued to warm up. However, once Steve Biko took the microphone, everyone literally dropped what they were doing. The crowd grew silent and even the players stopped kicking the ball around. Biko’s speech filled the stadium with pride. He exclaimed that together they will build a South Africa worth living in and kill the idea that one man is superior to another. This scene showed how much Steve Biko was looked up to as a leader.

haWhen Steve Biko was caught at a road block outside of his banning area, I thought of how dumb it was to risk his life. However, I realized how courageous it was of him and how willing he was to die for a cause he truly believed in. Not many people would risk their lives for anyone; Steve Biko risked his life for millions.

I was angry when the government told the public that Biko died of a ‘hunger strike.’ I couldn’t imagine how Donald felt, but I understood why he went through so much to publicize the truth about the brutal death of his friend. The government banned Donald in hopes of keeping the truth a secret. Donald puts his family at risk by sneaking out of his banning area and gaining immunity from the British embassy. Donald ultimately escapes and lives in exile with his family.

Donald Woods and Steve Biko’s journey to end apartheid is just one of many. I wish Steve Biko was able to live a longer life where he touched even more individuals, but with the help of Woods, Biko’s story reached more than imagined.

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