In 1977, Stephen Biko, an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, was seized at a roadblock and taken to a police station, where he was interrogated several days. On September 12th, he died from head injuries, the result of police brutality. Biko's death would draw worldwide attention to the brutality of apartheid, with Gabriel's dirge bringing South Africa's injustices to the younger generation. "I was uncertain about getting engaged in a political song," Gabriel told Rolling Stone. "Because I'd never directly taken on an issue in that way. I just tried some ideas, and I felt the spine tingling."