Skip to main content

Ghana academics call Gandhiji "racist", want statue removed from university campus through online petition

Pranab Mukherjee after unveiling Gandhi statue in Ghana
By Our Representative
As many as 1,012 persons have signed a rather controversial petition floated in the small western African country, Ghana, asking the authorities of the University of Ghana to remove the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, erected on the campus, accusing Gandhi of being a racist.
Floated through change.org by several academics, and addressed to members of the University of Ghana Council, the statue was unveiled on June 14, 2016 by President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee at the Recreational Quadrangle, and is the only statue of an historical personality on the University of Ghana's Legon campus.
Four of those who have signed the petition are senior academics of the University of Ghana, Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Prof Akosua Adoma Perbi, Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, and Dr Ọbádélé Kambon. They have called their petition part of #GandhiMustComeDown Movement.
Well-known Magsasay Award winning writer Arundhati Roy, well-known for her anti-Gandhi views, was the first to dig out in 2014 (click HERE) "anti-black" views of Gandhi in during his stay in South Africa, pointing towards how he "reimagined" his support to Africa's fight for freedom later.
Outlining the rationale for the removal of the statue, the petition seeks to provide citations from Gandhi's writings to illustrate this. These are:
  • Dec, 19, 1894: “A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.” ~ Vol. I, p. 193
  • May 5, 1895: “In the face, too, of financial operations, the success of which many of their detractors would envy, one fails to understand the agitation which would place the operators in the same category as the half-heathen Native and confine him to Locations, and subject him to the harsher laws by which the Transvaal Kaffir is governed.” ~ Vol. I, pp. 224-225
  • May 5, 1895: “So far as the feeling has been expressed, it is to degrade the Indian to the position of the Kaffir.” ~ Vol. I, p. 229
  • Sept 26, 1896: “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.” ~ Vol. I, pp. 409-410
  • May 27, 1899: “Your Petitioner has seen the Location intended to be used by the Indians. It would place them, who are undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs, in close proximity to the latter.” ~ Vol. II, p. 270
  • June 1, 1906: “The Boer Government insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs.” ~ Vol. V, p. 59
The statue
All of them sourced from “Gandhi and South African Blacks” (http://www.gandhiserve.org/e/cwmg/cwmg.htm ), the petition notes, “The term kaffir is considered a racial slur used in reference to indigenous Black South Africans.”
It claims, “Gandhi also campaigned against the efforts of the Dalits, the Black “Untouchables” of India, and for the maintenance of the caste system right up to his death.
The petition further says, “There are currently no statues of our own heroes and heroines on our campus: We are of the view that 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.”
It adds, “In a context where our youth know so little about our own history, such statues can serve as an opportunity for such learning to occur. Why should we uplift other people's 'heroes' at an African university when we haven’t lifted up our own? We consider this to be a slap in the face that undermines our struggles for autonomy, recognition and respect.”
---   
Click HERE to see the petition

Comments

PK Willey said…
Although it is an oxymoron to say one is a Gandhian scholar, I have spent over 30 years of my life studying Gandhi's thought, and seeking to understand my own relationship to the ideals he gave humanity a vision of. In the last several years there has been an unfortunate and ignorant effort to portray Gandhi as racist among other things. Gandhi evolved to the ideals that he place before humanity in an unending experiment throughout his entire life. I would like to ask:

Are the students and faculty aware that Gandhi had his house in S. Africa built according to native architecture, the Kraal, Would a racist person want anything to do with native architecture?

Are they aware that the "ambulance corp' Gandhi made with other colonialized Indians, was the only succor for wounded Zulus in the horrific Zulu War of Independence (Bambata Rebellion)? (Have they experienced personally the devastating effects of growing up under colonialism upon the psyche?) White military refused to touch them after mortally wounding them. Gandhi was grateful to be able to be of service to them. Is that a racist attitude?

Are the students aware that Gandhi and Tagore jointly called for all Indians in Africa to educate their children along with Africans?

The students should be encouraged to read Gandhi's "Story of My Experiments with Truth" and critically examine what they are hearing, and what they have learnt. They might likewise examine the structures and directions that their present education is taking them, for whose profit, and to what ends? They might find in Gandhi's work for the poor of India, solutions to the real problems of Ghana. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu made a deep study of Gandhi's life, and never came to such shallow conclusions.
Unknown said…
If the documents from which the quotes are taken provide accurate recordings of his words then it would imply that he actually had those views. Why was he in South Africa and involved with the Boer War in support of the British? What tangible evidence do we have to support any of your claims regarding the great things he supposedly did in South Africa aside from other documents which claim that he did nice things? Why shouldn't Africans praise their own local heroes above others? There are no Kwame Nkrumah statues in India are there?

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.