Acontroversial Mahatma Ghandi statue in the University of Ghana has been pulled down two years after protests by a group of academics and supporters who wanted the statue removed.
The protests started three months after the Indian independence icon’s statue, donated by the Indian government, was unveiled in the main quadrangle of the university’s campus in Accra.
With the hashtag #GandhiMustFall, the protests turned into a movement spearheaded by a former director of the university’s Institute of African Studies (IAS), Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, who described the Indian activist as a racist whose statue had no place in the Ghanaian university.
“At world class universities, even former bastions of slavery, apartheid and white supremacy, statues and other symbols associated with controversial persons have been pulled down or removed,” read the petition signed by thousands of people including professors of the university.
It detailed several writings of Gandhi and speeches that were racist and also his “campaign for the maintenance of the caste system right up to his death”.
“We are of the view that if there should be statues on our campus, then, first and foremost, they should be of African heroes and heroines, who can serve as examples of who we are and what we have achieved as a people,” it added.
Ghana’s government later agreed to relocate the statue from the university campus “to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy”. The country’s foreign affairs ministry did not state the details of its relocation.
“Acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve,” the ministry added at the time.
Detail of the removal of the statue from the university after two years is still unknown and local media report that the university security who pulled down the statue only said they had “received an order from above”.
In October, a court in Malawi halted the erection of another Gandhi statue in the commercial capital after local Gandhi Must Fall protesters filed a lawsuit the statue which is part of a $10 million construction deal with the Indian government.
The protesters gave 18 grounds against the statue which was part of a deal to build a convention centre in Blantyre.
Why Mahatma Gandhi is being called racist?
Widely remembered as an influential revolutionary who played a very important role during India’s struggle for independence from Britain, Mahatma Gandhi expressed resentments towards black people and made racist comments in his writing.
After graduating as a lawyer from the prestigious Inner Temple in London, Gandhi moved to South Africa and served as an expatriate lawyer, representing resident Indian communities in their struggle for civil rights.
He spent 21 years in South Africa and just like other people of colour, he suffered his fair share of discrimination. That, however, did not change his views about black people being inferior.
Here are some of his discriminatory citations including calling black South Africans the racist and derogatory “K” word.
“Ageneral belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa].”
Source: “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes”
“In the face, too, of financial operations, the success of which many of their detractors would envy, one fails to understand the agitation which would place the operators in the same category as the half-heathen Native and confine him to Locations, and subject him to the harsher laws by which the Transvaal Kaffir [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa] is governed.”
“So far as the feeling has been expressed, it is to degrade the Indian to the position of the Kaffir [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa] .”
“Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa] whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”
“Your Petitioner has seen the Location intended to be used by the Indians. It would place them, who are undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa], in close proximity to the latter.”
“The Boer Government insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs [derogatory term used to describe black people in South Africa].”
This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com