Statue & Statute
The global community still remembers his fight against racism in South Africa. However, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – the political activist and the leader of the Indian Independence Movement against British rule who led the South Asian nation to Independence, apart from inspiring movements for civil rights and freedom across the world – is at the centre of a debate seven decades after his death. And that, too, in Africa!
A statue of Gandhi has recently been removed from a campus of the University of Ghana a couple of years after some professors launched a petition, claiming that the thinker and the much revered leader of the Indian freedom movement was racist. The protesters also accused the Indian freedom fighter of supporting the caste system.
The Ghana University Gandhi Statue
In his publication – titled ‘Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire‘ (2007), Rajmohan Gandhi quoted the Mahatma as saying: “Many of the native prisoners are only one degree removed from the animal and often created rows and fought among themselves.” He further quoted passages written by Gandhi which say that Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans! According to Rory Carrol in The Guardian, Gandhi saw Black people as “lazy savages who were barely human“.
Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee had unveiled the statue in June 2016 at the University of Ghana campus in Accra. A couple of months after the inauguration of the statue, professors launched the Gandhi Must Fall movement, with Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo leading the protests. Later, they received support from the students. In a petition, the protesters stated that “it is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power”.
The statue has been removed
Radio Universe confirmed on December 11 that the statue was removed. Those – who removed the statue – informed the press that they had done so only after receiving instructions from the higher authorities in this regard.
Dr Ọbádélé Kambon – head of the Institute of African Studies’ Department of Arts – said that it was the victory of Black people and their pride! For his part, student Benjamin Mensar stressed that it was a huge victory for the people of Ghana, as “the statue used to remind us that we were inferior”.
Meanwhile, a female student opined that the statue should have been removed much earlier as the action has no connection with diplomacy. It is to be noted that protests against Gandhi had also broken out in Johannesburg in 2013 for allegedly making racist comments against Black people.
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