Accra academics win removal of Mahatma sculpture after petition denouncing Indian leader and saying African heroes come first
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be removed from a university campus in Ghana after professors launched a petition claiming the revered Indian independence leader and thinker was racist.
The statue of Gandhi was unveiled in June at the University of Ghana campus in Accra by Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, as a symbol of close ties between the two countries.
But in September a group of professors started a petition calling for the removal of the statue, saying Gandhi was racist and that the university should put African heroes and heroines first and foremost.
The petition states it is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power, and quotes passages written by Gandhi which say Indians are infinitely superior to black Africans.
More than 1,000 people signed the petition, which claimed that not only was Gandhi racist towards black South Africans when he lived in South Africa as a young man, but that he campaigned for the maintenance of Indias caste system, an ancient social hierarchy that still defines the status in that country of hundreds of millions of people.
Ghanas foreign ministry said it had followed the controversy with deep concern and wanted to 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. it said. While acknowledging that, human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve.
Statues on university campuses have recently prompted bitter arguments in Africa as students wrestle with the legacy of colonialism and history of racism on the continent. Last year students in South Africa successfully campaigned for the removal, from the University of Cape Town campus, of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a notoriously racist mining magnate who died in 1902.
Gandhi, who lived in South Africa for 21 years, has long been a more controversial figure, both in his homeland and elsewhere, than many admirers around the world are aware. A hero for his role in the movement that won independence for India from Britain, Gandhis vision of non-violent protest inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. His thinking was a key influence on leaders of the African National Congress and others engaged in the struggle against apartheid, and his tolerance for all faiths in his homeland led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. But his more conservative views, and early apparent racism, still anger some.