#GandhiForComeDown: It has been just 3 months since President Pranab Mukherjee gifted a statue of Mahatma Gandhi to the University of Ghana. Now, a group of professors and students have started a petition to have the iconic leader’s statue brought down.
The argument of the faction group is based on the belief that Gandhi was “inherently racist” for the depiction of native black Africans as “kaffir” (considered a racial slur in Africa) in his early writings, when he was fighting for the rights of Indians in South Africa.
According to reports, some members of the university, led by a former director of the Institute of African Studies, Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, have started a campaign to get the institution to pull down the statue, which was unveiled during a visit by President Pranab Mukheriee in June.
The campaign carries the slogan Gandhi Must Fall’ and `Gandhi For Come Down’ (pidgin for Gandhi Must Come Down), inspired by the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign against a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University .
The statue was installed at the recreational quadrangle of the university’s Legon campus in Accra.
Apart from a campus agitation, a petition to the university authorities on change.org has already attracted 872 signatures in a bit of a quandary. The site was chosen by the Ghana foreign office when the President went for a visit in June. While there are some voices preaching moderation, the ministry of external affairs is also waiting to see whether the campaign gathers steam.
One of Gandhi’s writings that have been cited in the petition reads thus:
“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.” (Dec 19, 1894)
A second, more damaging (Sept. 26, 1896) one reads: “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.”
The petitioners have sourced the quotes from Gandhi and South African Blacks . Putting an international spin to their petition, they listed a number of colleges and universities around the world seeking to remove the overt symbols of racism.