Recently we posted a petition calling for the removal of the Gandhi statue at the University of Ghana on the Blog. In this historic effort, the online petition started by a group of professors and students at the University has received nearly 2,000 signatures as well as a great deal of coverage in local and international news sources. The news articles shed light on the short history of the statue that was presented to the people of Ghana by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in June 2016. Following the creation of the petition to remove the statue, the campaign quickly “gathered steam.” The critical dialogue surrounding the erection of the statue has focused not only on Gandhi’s racist identity, but also on the implications of the image of Gandhi in this space and what it means for students, professors, and the nation. In an article titled, “The Venal Illusion of Independence: Ghana vs. Gandhi,” Akosua Abeka states, “How can a public university adopt a foreign hero for its campus? How can our tax payer’s money be used in feeding a diet of a Gandhi monomania to our own children?” Abeka outlines the dangerous influence of the statue on the Ghanaian’s collective consciousness and the reality of cultural hegemony.
On October 6, 2016, Time reported, “Ghana Will Remove ‘Racist’ Gandhi Statue From Its Oldest University.” Abigail Abrams of Time noted that, taking into consideration the petition and protests, Ghana’s government has decided to relocate the statue. In an article titled, “Removing Gandhi statue from UG good news – Group,” Dr Akosua Adomako Ampofo was quoted as stating, “I am happy the statue will leave the University of Ghana campus. I am curious to know where it will be relocated to and if necessary we’ll ask further questions.” While the future location of the statue remains unknown, and the University Council to whom the original petition was submitted is yet to meet and respond, what does appear apparent is that through advocacy, petitioners and protestors have succeeded in in creating a dialogue about the importance of symbolism and dignity.
Check here for further information:
BR Ambedkar, “What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables” (1945);
GB Singh, “Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity” (2004); “Gandhi under cross examination” (2009);
Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy “With the Doctor and The Saint” (2014);
Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed “The South African Gandhi—Stretcher bearer of Empire” (2015).