- The University of Ghana erected a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in June 2016. It was a gift to the country from India’s president at the time.
- Faculty and students protested the statue shortly after it went up.
- Gandhi made racist comments against Africans while he was living in South Africa, historians said. He referred to them as “savages” in letters.
- The university took down the statue on Tuesday night after two years of protest, but refused to say why.
The University of Ghana has removed a statue of Mahatma Gandhi after two years of protest over his racist letters about Africans.
The statue – which was a 2016 gift from then-Indian president Pranab Mukherjee – was removed overnight on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported, though the reason is not immediately clear.
Business Insider has contacted the University of Ghana for comment. Ghana’s foreign ministry told AFP “an internal decision by the university.”
The university installed the statue in June 2016, which prompted backlash from faculty members over the Indian leader’s racist comments toward Africans.
Gandhi lived in South Africa from 1893 to 1915, during which he campaigned for the rights of Indian laborers stationed there.
Historians recently revealed that Gandhi had made comments referring to African natives as “savages” or “kaffirs,” a term that refers to dark skinned people and roughly means the same as “negro.”
South African historians Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed in 2015 noted that Gandhi wrote in a 1893 letter to the parliament of the British colony of Natal that “general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are a little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa.”
The excerpt was published in their book, “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire,” which was cited by the BBC.
Gandhi also said in a 1896 speech, according to broadcaster Jad Adams’ 2011 book “Gandhi: The True Man Behind Modern India” cited by Reuters: “Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw kaffir.”
“And whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy his wife with and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”
Shortly after the statue was installed in 2016, faculty circulated a petition calling on the university council to take it down.
“We can do the honorable thing by pulling down the statue. It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power,” the professors said in their September 2016 letter.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said at the time that it would move the statue away from the university “to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy,” but that appeared not to have taken place.
Students and faculty on Wednesday celebrated the statue’s removal, and attributed the two-year campaign to the removal.
Obadele Kambon, the head of the university’s language, literature, and drama department, said: “If we indeed don’t show any self respect for our heroes, how can the world respect us? This is victory for black dignity and self-respect. The campaign has paid off.”
Benjamin Mensah, a student at the university, told AFP: “It’s a massive win for all Ghanaians because it was constantly reminding us of how inferior we are.”
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