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Was Mahatma Gandhi a racist?

The authors of a new book on Gandhi’s life believe Mahatma was a racist who ‘remained true to Empire while expressing disdain for Africans’.

If there is anything that divides public opinion, then it is certainly the perceived flaws and dark side of revered figures.

Indeed, the moral uprightness of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the respected leader of India’s anti-colonial movement, religious thinker and proponent of non-violence civil disobedience has been put on the spotlight in a new book by two South African university professors.

The authors of the books certainly believe Mahatma Gandhi was a racist and reveal details about Gandhi’s life in South Africa between 1893 and 1914. Gandhi “remained true to Empire while expressing disdain for Africans,” the book’s publisher notes.

The shocking details are a far cry from the well known image of a glorified Gandhi, a man revered for leading campaigns against poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic peace and inspired civil rights movements across the world.

The writers of the book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire, Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed spent seven years exploring the complex story, the BBC reported.

The book reveals that Gandhi kept the Indian struggle “separate from that of Africans and coloureds even though the latter were also denied political rights on the basis of colour and could also lay claim to being British subjects”.

According to Anand, founder of Navayana, the publisher of the book, Gandhi often expressed “disdain for Africans”.

Excerpts of what Gandhi said about black South Africans:

In 1893, Gandhi wrote to the Natal parliament saying that a “general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are a little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa,” BBC.

At a speech in Mumbai in 1896, Gandhi said that the Europeans in Natal wished “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,” WashingtonPost.

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