Durban, Sep 20: Some students and academics at the Ghana University are demanding the removal of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, saying he was racist against black people.
The Gandhi statue, currently installed in the premises of the varsity, was gifted by President Pranab Mukherjee during his recent visit to Ghana.
The students and teachers argue that Gandhi's reference to black Africans as "kaffir" in some of his early writings reflected his 'racist' mindset.
The campaign has been led by Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, former director of the Institute of African Studies. The students and teachers have also launched an online petition, asking authorities to facilitate "the removal of the statue of Gandhi" at the earliest.
"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?" wrote a professor in the petition.
The campaigners have been raising slogans like 'Gandhi Must Fall' and 'Gandhi For Come Down'. Ampofo is urging members of the University of Ghana Council to heed her petition, arguing among other things that, Gandhi was racist against black people and honouring him will set a wrong example for students, as per local media in Ghana.
But there have been voices which oppose the demand. Ocqauye, a professor of political science and a lawyer, said a decision to demolish the statue might have implications on diplomatic ties between Ghana and India.
"It will be most unnecessary, most uncalled for and not in the supreme interest of Ghanaians and we must know what serves our interest best," he said.
The petitioners referred to Gandhi's open letter to "The Natal Mercury" in 1894, saying he called black Africans as "kaffirs," a derogatory term for black people.
"A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir," they quoted Gandhi as saying in the letter.