Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- The Indian government is coming up against resistance from Africans who do not appreciate the Mahatma’s racist attitude to Africans and is support for the caste system.
In Ghana, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, had his statue erected at the main quadrangle of the University of Ghana campus in 2016, donated by the Indian government.Thanks to intense protests by a group of academics and Pan-Africanists, the statue was taken down in 2018.
Gandhi, born in Gujarat, Western India, in 1869, is revered as a man who contributed to the fall of the British Empire when he led his people to gain independence using nonviolent means.However, others point out that while Gandhi indeed suffered abuse at the hands of the British colonial government, he also discriminated against people of African stock.
Gandhi’s life in South Africa, where he spent over two decades as an expatriate lawyer, representing resident Indian communities in their struggle for civil rights, comes under sharp focus when his contact with Black South Africans is examined.
His detailed writings and speeches, which have been described as racist, as well as, his staunch belief in India’s caste system which relegated Blacks to the bottom of the social ladder, do not endear him to black people.
In October 2018, a Malawi court halted the erection of another Gandhi statue in the commercial capital, Blantyre, citing his hatred of Black people.
At the moment, Cape Town residents are also opposed to an erection of a Gandhi statue at Heerengracht, in the Cape Town central business district, next to the International Convention Centre.
India’s Government wishes for a life-size statue of Gandhi to be erected in Cape Town and unveiled on October 2 which marks his 150th birthday but the locals are holding authorities to their words of consulting them before arriving at a decision. But despite two-thirds of respondents expressing their wish of not having the statue in the town, the city council is going ahead anyway.
Gandhi’s well-documented reference to Black South African citizens as Kaffirs – a derogatory term for Africans – and early writings claiming Black people were inferior to Indians, has generated the opposition to his statues.This is in spite of the sanitized version of history the India government pushes.It remains to be seen how the battle for and against the Gandhi statue will pan out.