University of Ghana removes Gandhi statue after petition calls him racist

University of Ghana removes Gandhi statue after petition calls him racist
A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in Accra, Ghana, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Professors at a university in Ghana's capital campaigned for the removal of the statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. (Source: Christian Thompson)

ACCRA, Ghana (RNN) Removing monuments to racist individuals is a phenomenon even Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t safe from.

Gandhi, whose peaceful protest famously inspired a movement for Indian independence from the British Empire and inspired prominent black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, was immortalized with a statue at the University of Ghana in 2016.

Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called it a symbol of strengthening ties between the two countries.

Petitioners called it a slap in the face that undermined their struggles for autonomy, recognition and respect, so the university had it removed last week, The Washington Post reports.

“We have failed the generation that look up to us, namely our students." the petition said. “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?”

Professors at the university started the petition in September 2016. They pointed to excerpts from Gandhi’s writings in which he referred to native Africans as savages and that he was insulted how the British only treated Indians slightly better.

Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years and petitioners said he is known for his role in establishing the caste-like apartheid system that dominated the country for decades.

He also frequently used the K-word, a slur that is so offensive in South Africa, it is rarely said aloud by any race. It’s comparable to the N-word, except today, one could face hate crime charges for simply saying it in that country.

Even so, that wasn’t the case in June 1906 when Gandhi wrote, “The Boer Government insulted the Indians by classing them with the K------.”

The petition, which gained more than 2,200 signatures, also pointed to the efforts other universities like Yale, Georgetown, Rhodes and Cape Town have made to rename places on campus as to not glorify individuals with racist pasts.

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