Two years after a statue of Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi was erected at the University of Ghana campus, it has been taken down by school authorities.
Students and university professors had protested the erection of the statue because of historic comments from the Indian independence hero considered racist towards black people. The statue was unveiled in 2016 during a visit to Ghana by the then Indian president Pranab Mukherjee.
But weeks after its unveiling, it was vandalized and the signature rounded spectacles on the statue broken off. On Wednesday Dec. 12, the entire statue came off the plinth under the supervision of campus security.
“Gandhi has finally fallen,” tweeted Akosua Adomako Ampofo, professor of African and gender studies. Prof. Ampofo was one of the lead proponents of the #GandhiMustFall movement. An online petition calling for the removal of the statue garnered over 2,000 signatures.
The controversy around the statue had dragged on for two years as the university and the ministry batted responsibility back and forth to each other. The university council did make the decision to take it down in 2016 but has declined to explain why it took so long to take it down.
Similarly, there is a growing campaign in Malawi to stop the erection of a Gandhi statue in the city of Blantyre. Campaigners there secured a victory in October when a high court judge halted the erection of an effigy of Gandhi which would be part of a convention centre named after him as well.
The campaign against the statue is based on comments made by Gandhi during the two decades he lived in South Africa in the early 1900s. He advocated for improved rights for Indians in South Africa but not for the majority black population who he referred to as “kaffirs”, a derogatory term used in South Africa to refer to black people, similar to the n-word in the United States.
The pride of place Gandhi’s legacy has enjoyed as an icon of non-violent resistance to oppression and injustice has been hurt in recent years especially following the publishing of a book in 2015 by South African academics Goolam Vahed and Ashwin Desei which examines his life as a young lawyer in South Africa.
The controversy around Gandhi has also been stirred up with major plans by the Indian government to celebrate his 150th anniversary next year at home and abroad.
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