Ghana is taking down a statue of Gandhi from its oldest university

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

Ghana has said that it will remove a statue Mahatma Gandhi from a university campus in Accra, Ghana where it has inspired protests.

The statue of a bespectacled Gandhi, holding a walking stick and leaning slightly forward, was meant to serve as a symbol of friendship between India and Ghana. Instead, local professors saw it as a “slap in the face,” given Gandhi’s derisive views toward black Africans, documented during his time in South Africa. The teachers started a petition in September, prompting an online campaign hashtagged #Gandhimustfall.

Citing its “deep concern” over the controversy, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Oct. 5 that the government wants to relocate the statue to “ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy.”

Gandhi, who is revered in India and around the world for spearheading the campaign of peaceful protest that helped win India’s independence from England, was a 24-year old lawyer when he came to South Africa in the late 1800s. He referred to black South Africans as “savages” and “kaffirs”—a racial slur—according to a biography published last year.

His grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, has admitted that his grandfather was, in his youth, “ignorant and prejudiced” about black South Africans. But he argues that Gandhi’s fight for the rights of Indians in South Africa helped paved the way for the end of the country’s system of apartheid.

Ghana’s foreign ministry also urged a more holistic view of the Indian freedom fighter: “While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve.”

The #Gandhimustfall campaign follows a similar protest movement in South Africa, which pressured the University of Cape Town to remove a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes last year.

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