A statue of Gandhi proudly stands somewhere in Legon, the UNIVERSITY of Ghana, one of the few solid intellectual havens of Africa.
That, for me, is either a tribute to the enduring tolerance of the University or, rather, the low standards the University has when it comes to honouring people.
Gandhi may have been a civil rights activist of some sort. Yes, undoubtedly, he believed Indians across their country were equal to one another –in the eyes of their creator- and equal to their British colonial masters; but his charity didn’t extend to Blacks.
Gandhi was an unrepentant racist whose low and contemptuous view of blacks is well documented, both by himself and by historians.
In his writings, he deprecated any equation between Indians and Blacks who he, in a derogatory manner,
referred to constantly as ‘kaffirs’.
‘kaffirs, now outlawed, ever offensive, is a South African term similar in meaning to ‘nigger’.
On the 16th of January 1909, Gandhi in his paper the Indian Opinion wrote ‘Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized- the convicts even more so…The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian thrown into such company!’
Gandhi’s deep-seated disgust towards blacks led him to advocate for apartheid in South Africa and preaching for white dominance over blacks.
He would write in September 24, 1903, ‘We believe as much in purity of race as we think they do…We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.’
Gandhi, himself took part in the wars which led to white minority rule of South Africa.
Gandhi showed no repentance for his racial views during his lifetime nor did he recant any of them after age should have taught him of the inherently ignorant position he had taken by placing one race above another.
All over the world, the light of men’s glory in other fields has been dimmed, particularly in academic communities, by views such as Gandhi held and indeed relics of slavery and discrimination are being pushed away so in a massive intellectual uprising of young people.
I speak of #RhodesMustFall, the movement which captured the imagination of the world in 2015 calling for the removal of a statute of apartheid founder Cecil Rhodes from the Universities of Cape Town in South Africa and Oxford in the United Kingdom. In the United States, calls have been resounding for the removal of a statue of a Jesuit leader praying for Native Americans in Saint Louise as well as the removal of a statue of President Jefferson from the University of Missouri due to his endorsement and active participation in slave trading.
it is both counterintuitive and fervidly weird for the University of Ghana, at the time when everyone is throwing their garbage out, to be bringing some in.
There are countless statutes of Ghanaians who did this nation and Africa proud, countless statutes of Whites who stood against the status quo of the time to fight for African liberation and equality.
These are the men and women whose honour the University must give with a befitting statue.
But Gandhi? I say, P-LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!
Kofi Opare Hagan.