“The interrelationship between the consciousness of the self and the emancipatory programme is of paramount importance… Blacks are out to completely transform the system”
– Steve Biko
The Steve Biko Foundation focuses its work on reducing inequality, strengthening democracy and promoting the intangible aspects of development: history, identity, culture and values.
Each intervention of the Foundation is designed to advance:
- Policy, dialogue and advocacy;
- Knowledge production and dissemination; and
- Leadership development
This work is an attempt to find innovative and sustainable solutions to South Africa and the continent’s critical social issues. The Foundation strengthens democracy by championing dialogue, scholarship and programs on the relationship between identity, agency, citizenship and social action. The Foundation’s programmatic interventions take place in the areas of: International Dialogue, Arts & Culture, Education, Sports Development and Economic Justice.
The Foundation’s emphasis is on developing multiple layers of active citizenship and leadership with an approach that integrates the personal, political and professional. In this model, an individual’s sense of self – their values and beliefs – finds expression in both their political representations and professional conduct.
The Foundation focuses on developing a cadre of citizens and social agents whose mandate extends beyond the boundary of the company and individual, moulding leadership not only for success, but for significance.
Accordingly the Foundation’s programmatic portfolio is underpinned by the “Three C’s”:
- Consciousness: Identity, Heritage and Culture – Who Am I?
- Community: What Is My Place in the World? How Can I Contribute Meaningfully?
- Core Skills: Acquiring the Necessary Skills in Order to Make a Meaningful Contribution?
In post-apartheid South Africa much has been made of the skills shortage and leadership development. Consequently, alongside the provision of access to traditional training grounds such as business schools, a number of programs have been developed to address these needs. While these initiatives do address the skills challenges facing the nation, the reality is that they are geared toward producing professionals, not citizens. The proposition of the Steve Biko Foundation focuses on developing a cadre of leadership whose mandate extends beyond the boundary of the firm. The Foundation focuses on developing leadership not only for success, but for significance. This approach is underpinned by five central values:
- Critical analysis and inquiry
- Culture, identity and history
Among others, the following programmatic activities are utilized to promote the link between identity, agency and social action:
- Topical workshops
- Artistic Exhibitions
- Thought-provoking performances
- Cross-Cultural exchange
All too often, individuals and institutions outside of mainstream political formations, and recognized opinion makers, are excluded from social discourse. In seeking to create a culture of interrogative leadership, the second pillar of the Steve Biko Foundation’s leadership development program centres on increasing the capacity of communities to produce organic leaders through a self-replenishing leadership culture, sustained by consistent engagement with contemporary social issues.
The Foundation seeks to empower communities to not only serve as respondents to national dialogue, but to feature in framing the issues and developing alternative paradigms. This kind of leadership is endowed not only with the capacity to regurgitate policies and programmes; it is possessed with the aptitude to synthesize ideas and to originate policies and interventions, furthering the democratic project. A strong culture of critical engagement assists communities in developing successive generations of leadership that is responsive to and grounded in local issues. As such, SBF works to support community development and mass participation in national dialogue through:
- Creating forums for public education about various policies
- Documenting the stories of historic and contemporary individuals and institutions that make up the social capital of communities
- Developing platforms for interaction between established professionals and emerging practitioners
- Supporting the development of community based organizations
While the bedrock of the Foundation’s intervention is developing conscious leadership, SBF seeks to complement this element by creating access to skills development opportunities. The objective of this facet of the leadership development program is two-fold. First, the aim is to equip individuals and communities with tools with which to express their values. By creating avenues to access vocational training, business skills and entrepreneurial opportunities, SBF seeks to assist communities in actualizing the principle of agency. The Foundation recognizes that without basic skills in community organizing and organizational development, the empowerment of marginalized individuals and communities remains an unattainable ideal.
The second impetus behind skills development as a component of leadership development is the reality that poverty and economic hardships shape the lives of the majority of South Africans. Many individuals, who could contribute positively to development and democracy, are bound by the need to provide not only for themselves but their families. At its worst, poverty not only undermines the dignity of people, but can contribute to decision-making that violates the values articulated above.
Accordingly, among the Foundation’s training interventions in the arena of capacity building focuses on:
- Cooperative development
- Enterprise development
- Organizational development