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

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.