Call to re­move Gandhi statue over ‘racist views’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

A GROUP of Ghana­ian aca­demics, stu­dents and artistes is call­ing for the re­moval of a statue of Ma­hatma Gandhi from a univer­sity cam­pus, say­ing that the leader of In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment was racist to­wards black peo­ple.

The statue of Gandhi, who spent 21 years (1893-1914) in South Africa and fought for the rights of In­di­ans liv­ing there, was erected at the Univer­sity of Ghana in mid-June dur­ing a visit to the coun­try by In­dia’s Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee. In an on­line pe­ti­tion, pro­fes­sors at the univer­sity cited a se­ries of Gandhi’s own writ­ings dur­ing his time in South Africa to il­lus­trate his “racist iden­tity”.

They quoted sev­eral ref­er­ences in which he de­picted In­di­ans as be­ing at a higher level than black Africans, and used the racist pe­jo­ra­tive “kaf­firs” to de­scribe them.

One of Gandhi’s writ­ings cited in the pe­ti­tion reads: “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 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.”

Born in 1869, Mo­han­das Karam­c­hand Gandhi be­came in­ter­na­tion­ally known for his legacy of non-vi­o­lent re­sis­tance and for be­ing at the fore­front of In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment after nearly two cen­turies of Bri­tish rule.

In the eyes of mil­lions of his com­pa­tri­ots, Gandhi, who was as­sas­si­nated in 1948, is known as the Ma­hatma, or “great soul”, an iconic fig­ure who achieved po­lit­i­cal and so­cial process through peace.

But the pe­ti­tion’s au­thors said that they could not recog­nise such a ti­tle for a man they ac­cused of ac­tively sid­ing with Bri­tish colonis­ers to en­sure the in­ter­ests of South Africa’s black pop­u­la­tion were put down dur­ing his time in the coun­try.

“How will the his­to­rian teach and ex­plain that Gandhi was un­char­i­ta­ble in his at­ti­tude to­wards the Black race and see that we’re glo­ri­fy­ing him by erect­ing a statue on our cam­pus?” se­nior lec­turer Kwadwo Ap­pi­agyei-Atua wrote in the cam­paign let­ter, co-signed by four other pe­ti­tion­ers.

In South Africa, Gandhi’s legacy has also been called into ques­tion re­cently. Last year, an on­line cam­paign us­ing the #Gand­hiMustFall hash­tag gained trac­tion, while a statue of his in Jo­han­nes­burg was van­dalised dur­ing a rally at­tended by pro­test­ers hold­ing plac­ards read­ing “Racist Gandhi Must Fall”. — News24

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