The statue of the famed independence leader Mahatma Gandhi has been removed from the University of Ghana after there were protests that he was "racist." Through the course of history, there has been abounding evidence which insinuates that Gandhi was inherently racist towards black and so there was a petition at the university to have his statue removed.
Soon after the statue was erected back in 2016, university lecturers took a bold step to denounce it and launched a petition to have the statue removed. The statue was officially unveiled by former Indian Pranab Mukherjee. The petition made it clear without doubts that Gandhi was "racist" and that instead, African leaders should be put first. The Ghanaian government at that time did not proffer any convincing, long-standing solution, as they only said that the statue would be relocated "to avoid the controversy... becoming a distraction from our strong ties of friendship" with India.
But with the calls for the removal of the statue growing louder, it was finally removed on Wednesday, according to lecturers and students who revealed this to the BBC. Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the statue was finally removed, much to the delight of many students and lecturers. A Law student, Nana Adoma Asare Adei, intimated to the BBC, "Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [his alleged racism], I don't think we should have his statue on campus."
The head of language, literature and drama at the Institute of African Studies, Obadele Kambon, said the removal was an issue of "self-respect". "If we show that we have no respect for ourselves and look down on our own heroes and praise others who had no respect for us, then there is an issue," he said. "If we indeed don't show any self respect for our heroes, how can the world respect us? This is victory for black dignity and self-respect. The campaign has paid off."
Gandhi has been glorified by history as the fierce yet non-violent independence leader who stood for the greater purposes of humanity. However, his alleged racist side has been hushed down, something which everyone needs to know. Gandhi referred to black South Africans as "kaffirs" in his early writings, a seriously offensive racial slur. He also believed that the Indians were "infinitely superior" to black people.
It has been said that Gandhi was ridiculously anti-Black, and believed that in the struggle for independence only the Indians mattered, such that he kept the Indian struggle "separate from that of Africans and coloureds even though the latter were also denied political rights on the basis of colour and could also lay claim to being British subjects". When referring to blacks during times he spoke with the British, he would employ a diction like "savages or Natives of Africa."
Because of this, his legacy in Africa is mixed. But what Africa should be cautious of is not glorifying the racist Gandhi. That he was racist is apparently clear. Africa should be more wary by giving credit to valiant African leaders first. For what it is, it seems the lecturers and students are thoroughly satisfied with this development, something they had longed for.
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Header Image: BBC