Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the University of Ghana, which was inaugurated by former President Pranab Mukherjee has been pulled down after protests and petitions were filed against it.
The statue was removed on the intervening night of December 11-12 from where it had stood on the university campus in Ghana's capital of Accra since 2016.
According to reports the statue’s removal was approved by Ghana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration following petitions by the university's council to the government.
The statue has become controversial after a 2015 book by two South African writers pointed to instances where Gandhi held racist views against native South Africans. The book noted that during Gandhi’s stay in South Africa, he complained that Indians were being forced to use the same separate entrances as Africans, meaning “their civilised habits … would be degraded to the habits of aboriginal natives”.
“About the mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly,” he wrote in a letter in 1904. Another instance quotes him writing in June 1906, "The Boer Government insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs.”
The white rulers of South Africa used the word ‘Kaffirs’ for black South Africans and is considered as derogatory a word as ‘negro’.
The Change.org petition against Mahatma Gandhi’s statue reads, “How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the black race and see that we're glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?" The petition also cites passages attributed to some of his earlier writings from South Africa, and based on these lecturers then petitioned the University of Ghana Council to take down the monument.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years and the country served as the testing ground for his evolving views on politics and British Colonial rule. He was moved to launch his movement for equality using non-violent means in South Africa. His thoughts were replicated by leaders across the world including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
However, those protesting against him say that they have no need of the statue of a man who considered them inferior. Some activists in South Africa too have campaigned to have a Gandhi statue in Johannesburg removed using the hashtag #Gandhimustfall. They say they would rather have statues of African leaders.