#Gand­himust­fall – Icon’s statue to be moved over his per­ceived racism

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

DAKAR: Ghana will move a statue of Ma­hatma Gandhi from its main univer­sity be­cause of his “al­leged past racist com­ments”, the for­eign min­istry has said, while pay­ing trib­ute to Gandhi’s role as a civil rights leader.

A group of lec­tur­ers and stu­dents be­gan cam­paign­ing for the In­dian na­tion­al­ist leader’s statue to be re­moved shortly af­ter it was in­stalled at the univer­sity in June as a sym­bol of friend­ship be­tween Ghana and In­dia.

They ar­gue Gandhi made com­ments that were racist about Africans and that stat­ues on the Accra campus should be of African he­roes.

In a state­ment late on Thurs­day, the min­istry said it was con­cerned by the ac­ri­mony the cam­paign had gen­er­ated.

“The govern­ment would there­fore want to re­lo­cate the statue from the Univer­sity of Ghana to en­sure its safety and to avoid the con­tro­versy… be­ing a dis­trac­tion (from) our strong ties of friend­ship,” it said.

Not­ing that Gandhi had in­spired move­ments for civil rights and free­dom across the world, the state­ment urged Ghana­ians to “look be­yond the com­ments at­trib­uted to… Gandhi and ac­knowl­edge his role as one of the most out­stand­ing per­son­al­i­ties of the last cen­tury”.

A se­nior In­dian diplo­mat said the min­istry’s “very good state­ment” had sought to set the life and work of the ad­vo­cate of peace­ful re­sis­tance in a broader con­text and that the statue would be moved from the univer­sity to a safer place.

Amar Sinha also told re­porters in New Delhi the two gov­ern­ments had dis­cussed the de­bate over Gandhi that had flared in Ghana and South Africa. He said com­ments in­ter­preted by some as racist had been made rel­a­tively early in the life of the In­dian protest leader.

In­dia’s strug­gle against Bri­tish colo­nial­ism un­der Gandhi was an in­spi­ra­tion to a gen­er­a­tion of African in­de­pen­dence lead­ers, in­clud­ing Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, who in 1957 man­aged to per­suade Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties to grant Ghana in­de­pen­dence – one of the first African na­tions to get it.

Although his phi­los­o­phy of peace­ful protest would later in­spire the ANC in its re­sis­tance to apartheid rule, Gandhi him­self was no be­liever in equal­ity be­tween races, at least not ear­lier in his ca­reer, his­to­ri­ans say. – Reuters

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