ACCRA (Dec 16, 2018) — A statute of India’s national hero, Mahatma Gandhi, has been removed from a university campus in Ghana after it was decided by the institution that the icon of resistance to British colonialism was in fact a “racist.”
Lecturers at the University of Ghana began an online campaign after a giant bust of the leader was erected on the campus in 2016. The group of academics argue that Gandhi had a “racist identity” and regularly referred to native Africans as “savages” and “Kaffirs,” a pejorative term used to refer to black Africans.
The petition, which has so far received well over 2,200 signatures will be relocated to another area in Ghana, according to the country’s government.
The debate continues to rage over whether or not it is right for universities and local authorities to remove the statues of controversial historical figures that may have been guilty of racist behavior. Yet, the patron saint of nonviolent resistance is one that many didn’t see coming.
A Law student from the university has been cited by the BBC new as saying that, “Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things, [alleged racism], I don’t think we should have his statue on campus.”
Some might find the move odd, considering that Gandhi is often revered around the world for his almost pious dedication to and popularization of nonviolent resistance to British colonial rule in India, which eventually led to independence in 1947 when the UK parliament passed the ‘Indian Independence Act.’
The academics who launched the petition also argue that, “If there should be statues on our campus, then, first and foremost, they should be of African heroes and heroines, who can serve as examples of who we are and what we have achieved as a people.”
Yet, Ghana is far from the only country where angry motley crews of academics and students have demanded that the statues of historical figures deemed unsavory be removed — in fact, it is becoming somewhat of a nascent trend.
In August 2016, Yale university began the process of removing stained glass windows that depicted enslaved Africans. On top of that, the world class institution has renamed one of its most famous schools from ‘Calhoun College’ — named after John C Calhoun, a 19th-century vice president who endorsed the African slave trade — to ‘Hopper College,’ after a particularly successful female computer scientist.Rhodes University in South Africa also considered a rebrand as its name is taken from Cecil Rhodes, a former Prime Minister of the country who is widely credited as being one of the founding fathers of the apartheid system that ghettoized black citizens throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Ultimately however, the university’s council voted against the move.