A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian independence leader has been removed from the University of Ghana’s campus after students and staff argued he had “racist” views against Africans, considering them to be “inferior”.
Soon after the statue was unveiled in 2016 by India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee as a symbolic gesture to show the close ties between the two nations, faculty members of the university called for the statue’s removal.
Professors cited passages written by Gandhi who described Indians as “infinitely superior” in comparison to black Africans and had derogatorily referred to Africans as “kaffirs”.
As an effect, Nana Adoma Asare Adei, a law student at the university, told the BBC: “Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things, I don’t think we should have his statue on campus.”
Obadele Kambon, the head of language, literature and drama at the Institute of African Studies, said the act of removing the statue was an act of “self-respect” and a “victory of black dignity”.
If we show that we have no respect for ourselves and look down on our own heroes and praise others who had no respect for us, then there is an issue
– Obadele Kambon
He said: “If we show that we have no respect for ourselves and look down on our own heroes and praise others who had no respect for us, then there is an issue.”
To his sympathisers, Gandhi is celebrated for being an individual who stood up against British colonialism through the use of non-violent protest, a method of demonstration that was adopted by admirers such as Martin Luther King.
Supporters of Gandhi agree that while his views on Africans were “ignorant” and “prejudiced”, they were nevertheless a “product of their time”.
In light of the debate around the statue at Ghana University, Ghana’s former government said that the statue would be relocated to prevent the controversy surrounding it, which was “becoming a distraction from our strong ties of friendship [with India]”.