Gandhi statue removed from University of Ghana following protests over 'racist' Indian leader

African academics angry over anti-colonial icon's history of racial slurs

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Friday 14 December 2018 13:32
Statue of 'racist' Ghandi pulled down at University of Ghana campus

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been pulled down from a university in Ghana after lecturers complained the celebrated Indian independence leader was “racist”.

Academics at the University of Ghana in the capital, Accra, launched an online campaign against the effigy soon after it was erected in 2016.

The group pointed to Gandhi’s use of racial slurs, and argued the tribute was a “slap in the face” as there were no statues of African leaders on the university campus.

The Ghanaian government said the statue would be relocated elsewhere in the country. The university said the ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration was responsible for the decision to pull down the statue.

Law student Nana Adoma Asare Adei told BBC News: “Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [alleged racism], I don’t think we should have his statue on campus.”

Gandhi became a symbol of non-violent political resistance around the world after he led India to independence from British colonial rule.

Yet his legacy on race relations has been challenged in recent years. In his early writings, while living in South Africa, he regularly used the denigrating term “Kaffir”. He also referred to black Africans as “savages”.

The lecturers objecting to the monument claimed Gandhi had been “uncharitable in his attitude to the black race” and questioned why the university chose to honour him over an African independence leader.

“If there should be statues on our campus, then, first and foremost, they should be of African heroes and heroines, who can serve as examples of who we are and what we have achieved as a people.”

The row over Gandhi statues and racism has erupted elsewhere in Africa since the memorial was first unveiled in Ghana in June 2016 by India’s former president, Pranab Mukherjee.

Activists in South Africa have campaigned to have a Gandhi statue in Johannesburg removed using the hashtag #Gandhimustfall. Protesters in Malawi are also campaigning against plans to put up a Gandhi statue in the capital Blantyre over his writings.

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