Responding to racism debate, Ghanaian campus intends to move Gandhi statue

The government of Ghana has agreed to remove the statue, a gift from India, and will move it elsewhere to protect the symbol of friendship between the two nations.

Christian Thompson/AP/File
A statue of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi stands in Accra, Ghana. Ghana has expressed its intention to remove the statue, citing criticisms that the Indian civil rights leader had made disparaging remarks about black Africans.

Ghana's foreign ministry intends to remove a statue of Mohandas Gandhi from a university campus, after a group of professors and students at the University of Ghana protested the installation, claiming that the Indian civil rights leader held racist views and should not be held up as a Ghanaian hero.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition in support of its removal. Although concerned about the bitterness unearthed by the campaign, the government has agreed to remove the statue and will move it elsewhere to protect the symbol of friendship between the two nations.

"While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve," Ghana's ministry said in a statement. "He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world."

The ministry encouraged looking past racist comments to acknowledge Gandhi's "role as one of the most outstanding personalities of the last century."

Petition organizers feel the university should showcase local heroes, such as Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah or Yaa Asantewaa, who led the country against British rule. And the government’s response did not satisfy all those protesting the statue.

"We don't think the statue would be well received anywhere in Ghana," Obadele Kambon, one of the petition's organizers, told the Associated Press. Mr. Kambon asked the government to sent the statue back to India.

The statue was brought to the university when the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visited the country in June. Ghana's foreign ministry is concerned that the furor may damage the two countries' relations, the AP reports. 

This in not the first time that a statue of Gandhi has caused outrage on the continent. In 2003, a statue of Gandhi erected in Johannesburg, South Africa, was met with a great deal of criticism from people saying he had compared black people to India's class of untouchables, the lowest group in the traditional caste system. 

The preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement, Gandhi spent two decades in South Africa, where he fought for the rights of Indians. His theory of nonviolent protest inspired the African National Congress as it fought to end apartheid, in addition to other rights movements around the globe. However, some writings quote him using racist slurs and referring to black South Africans as savages.

Others have said that the criticism against Gandhi is unwarranted, arguing that most of his questionable comments were made early in life, and that he became more accepting throughout his life.

"Gandhi devoted much of his life to fighting caste prejudice," Mridula Mukherjee, a scholar of modern Indian history at Jawaharlal University, told The Guardian. "He was a reformer not a revivalist within the Hindu religion. His effort was in keeping with his philosophy of nonviolence and bringing social transformation without creating hatred."

Material from the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Responding to racism debate, Ghanaian campus intends to move Gandhi statue
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today