A statue of Mahatma Gandhi has raised some eye brows in Ghana after professors launched a petition claiming the revered Indian independence leader and thinker was racist and they want it to be removed from the University where it has been potrayed.
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 that Gandhi made comments that were racist about Africans and that statues on the Accra campus should be of African heroes.
They started an online petition calling for the statue’s removal which had more than 1,700 supporters on Thursday, cited letters Gandhi wrote during his time in South Africa as evidence that he advocated for the superiority of Indians over black Africans.
It also took issue with his use of the derogatory term kaffir to refer to native Africans and criticized the lack of statues of African heroes and heroines on campus.
One writer quoted Ghandi saying:
“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,” he quotes him as saying.
Black people were the ones who were called “Kaffir” in the statement by Gandhi. The word which was like a slap on the face of black people and it was thought to be a racist stunt.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said it had followed the controversy with adeep concern and they will relocate the statue.
“The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy.” said in a statement.
The statue, which was unveiled by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Ghana in June, was meant to symbolize friendship between the two countries, according to Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs .
But professors and students at the University of Ghana called the statue “a slap in the face” because of Gandhi’s “racist identity.”
Gandhi lived in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century, where he campaigned for rights for the descendents of Indian people who were brought there to work in sugar plantations in KwaZulu-Natal.