Work on the statue began two months ago along a road named after Gandhi in Malawi's 's commercial capital Blantyre. The Malawi government says it is being erected as part of a deal that will see New Delhi construct a $10 million convention centre in Blantyre.
But like it did in Ottawa, Canada and Accra, Ghana; the news has sparked wide criticism across Malawi as protesters say they "will not allow the statue of a racist" stand in their country. You will recall statues of Gandi like the one in Ghana have either been taken down or continued to be desecrated in other parts of the world where it stands due to the revelations that the Indian Independence hero was racial to Africans.
There continue to be wide criticism and protests in Ottawa, Canada for statues of Gandhi to be removed.
The petitioners in Malawi claim that Gandhi, who early in his career practiced in South Africa and fought against apartheid-era segregation laws, was racist.
"Mahatma Gandhi has never contributed anything to Malawi's struggle for independence and freedom," a statement from the "Gandhi Must Fall" group said.
"We, therefore, feel that the statue is being forced upon the people of Malawi and is the work of a foreign power aiming at promoting its image and dominion on the unsuspecting people of Malawi."
"We are not comfortable with imperialistic and neo-colonial ideologies that seek to impose... the foreign influence which deprives us of honour," Wonderful Mkutche, a member of the group was quoted as saying.
"Now more than ever, our nation must rise above pettiness and weakness in international deals... This must mean that we should only accept investments, partnerships... that are responsible, fair, equal, honourable, sustainable, efficient and transparent."
However, Isaac Munlo, Principal Secretary in the foreign ministry, defended the project saying: "It should be recognized that Mahatma Gandhi promoted values of simplicity, fight against social evils, promoting human and civil rights as well as uplifting of social well-being of people.
"It is also worth noting that all African freedom fighters that fought against colonialism and oppression and thus demanded independence were influenced by what Mahatma Gandhi fought for. In other ways, Mahatma Gandhi is a role model of a human rights campaigner for both Africa and India," he said.
Malawi and India established diplomatic ties in 1964 and New Delhi is one of the country's biggest donors.
You will recall that Gandhi’s legacy and track record on race relations has taken a beating over the last few years, particularly in Africa, even as the Indian government under Narendra Modi seems keen to champion his well-established reputation as an influential pioneer of peaceful protest and activism around the world.
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi is seen after it was vandalized with white paint at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg Apr 13, 2015.
In a recent book by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, professors at the University of Johannesburg and the University of Kwazulu Natal, reveal that Gandhi was an ardent racist who thought Africans were “Kaffirs”. Kaffir is a racial slur which was used to denigrate Africans during the colonial times.
When Gandhi was in South Africa, in the early 1900s, he repudiated the colonialist structure that placed Indians and black Africans in the same class bracket apart from Europeans - he felt Indians were superior.
A proposed statue of the Late former South African President, Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the United Nations Headquarters in New York; but many cla…
Source: News24, All Africa, Dandoora
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