News Brief

University of Ghana Petitioners Want Gandhi's Statue to Be Replaced With African Heroes

Concerned petitioners ask the University of Ghana to erect statues of African heroes and heroines instead of Gandhi—who was a racist.

Petitioners consisting of concerned academics from the University of Ghana succeeded in their call for the institution’s council to remove a statue of Gandhi from their campus.


“We are pleased that the Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has indicated that it would ‘want to remove the statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from the University of Ghana campus,’” the petitioners say in their response.

Gifted and unveiled on the university’s Legon campus by India’s President Pranab Mukherjee in June as a symbol of friendship between the two countries, professors and students didn’t take a liking to this exchange for the obvious—Gandhi’s racist ideals that his pacifist advocacy shielded.

“Based on Gandhi's own writings, he clearly embraced a hierarchy of the races with whites at the top, followed by Indians (as part of an Indo-Aryan alliance), then coloureds, and with blacks (kaffirs) at the bottom,” the petitioners note. “To say that what Gandhi wrote about Africans was merely an indication that he was a product of his time would be to do injustice to the many anti-racism/anti-caste scholars and activists of Indian and African descent of the same era.”

The petitioners now urge the Council of the University of Ghana to consider their request to have the opportunity to fundraise to erect statues of Ghanaian and African notables that have yet to be present on their campuses.

“We are of the view that if there should be statues on our campus, then, first and foremost, they should be of African heroes and heroines, who can serve as examples of who we are and what we have achieved as a people,” the concerned states in their original petition. “In a context where our youth know so little about our own history, such statues can serve as an opportunity for such learning to occur. Why should we uplift other people's 'heroes' at an African university when we haven’t lifted up our own? We consider this to be a slap in the face that undermines our struggles for autonomy, recognition and respect.”

They also reiterate:

“...We are pleased that the statue will be (temporarily?) relocated and that the Council of the University of Ghana, to whom we directed our petition, has indicated that it will consider our petition for the statue’s removal at its next meeting.”

Click here to read their statement in full.

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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