University Of Ghana Removes Gandhi Statue After Faculty Outcry

December 14, 2018

A controversial statue of the Indian civil rights leader Mohandas Gandhi has been removed from the The University of Ghana campus, two years after it was installed and faculty promptly began protesting for its removal.

The lecturers opposed to the statue pointed to what they called, Gandhi’s “racist identity,” highlighting remarks in which he repeatedly referred to native Africans using a slur and indicated that Indians were superior to Africans. Gandhi is famous for leading India’s independence movement against the British and for pushing for other reforms across the country, but he spent more than two decades in South Africa working on civil rights issues.

A petition from the faculty members also noted that the University of Ghana’s campus did not have statues of African heroes and heroines.

As NPR previously reported, the statue was installed on campus in 2016 and controversy over it was almost immediate:

“The statue was unveiled in June [2016] by Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee during a state visit to Ghana, and professors began rallying against it in September [2016].

“In a statement, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was following the controversy with ‘deep concern,’ and added: ‘While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve. He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.”

The ministry stressed that the ‘unfortunate verbal attack’ against Gandhi could potentially ‘create disaffection not only at the level of Government relations, but also between people not only in our country but all over the world.’ ”

In its initial response to the protests, the ministry said it wanted to “relocate” the statue, to tamp down the outrage while also protecting the artwork itself.

But it remained in place until this week.

The statue “was removed in the middle of the night on Tuesday, leaving just an empty plinth,” The Guardian reports. It’s unclear exactly where it is now.

The university told the BBC that Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was responsible for the statue’s removal.

However, Agence France-Press reports that an official at the ministry described the removal as “an internal decision by the university.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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