Campaigners from the University of Ghana who petitioned for the removal of Mohandas Gandhi’s statue from the university’s campus are certainly basking in the glory of the triumph of their movement after the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration revealed the statue would be removed and relocated.
The campaigners confirmed in a statement that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has indicated that it would “want to remove the statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from the University of Ghana campus”.
The statue of the Indian independence hero was erected in June during India President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Ghana.
However, the statue caused an outrage from academics and students who argued honouring Gandhi was a slap in the face for Africans because of Gandhi’s “racist identity” and numerous racist statements attributed to him in his lifetime. “How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the Black race and see that we’re glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?” the petition read.
The University of Ghana lecturers then spearheaded a petition on Change.Org under the hashtag #GandhiMustComeDown to get the Gandhi statue removed.
The campaign divided opinion with the creation of a counter campaign advocating for the statue to remain. The pro-Gandhi “remain” petition earned a mere 230 signatures and the “remove” camp garnered almost 2,000 signatures, which led to the decision to pull down the statue.
“It is not for us to say whether the revolt of the Kaffirs is justified or not. We are in Natal by virtue of British power. Our very existence depends upon it. It is therefore our duty to render whatever help we can.” (Apr. 14, 1906).
Buttressing their argument that Gandhi was racist, the academics noted that “Based on Gandhi’s own writings, he clearly embraced a hierarchy of the races with whites at the top, followed by Indians (as part of an Indo-Aryan alliance), then coloureds, and with blacks (kaffirs) at the bottom”.
“To say that what Gandhi wrote about Africans was merely an indication that he was a product of his time would be to do injustice to the many anti-racism/anti-caste scholars and activists of Indian and African descent of the same era”.
The campaigners have requested the University to give them an opportunity to “fund raise for the erection of a statue or statues of a Ghanaian/African hero(es)/heroine(s) to grace our University campus”.