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The Members of the University of Ghana Council

Attn: Chairman of Council Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi                                                                                                    

12 September 2016

Dear Honourable members of the University of Ghana Council:

Re.: Petition for the removal of the Statue of Gandhi

We the undersigned bring this petition for the removal of the statue of Gandhi to the esteemed Council of the University of Ghana Council for your consideration.

Background:

On 14 June 2016 a statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi[1] was erected at the Recreational Quadrangle. This is the only statue of an historical personality on the University of Ghana's Legon campus. Soon after it came to the notice of members of the University community and the general public, calls for its removal began within the University community and beyond.[2]  We, the undersigned associate ourselves with that call for the reasons outlined below.

Rationale for Removal:

1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s racist identity:

Below we provide just a few citations from his own writings to illustrate this.

Before Dec. 19, 1894

“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.” ~ Vol. I, p. 193

Before May 5, 1895

“In the face, too, of financial operations, the success of which many of their detractors would envy, one fails to understand the agitation which would place the operators in the same category as the half-heathen Native and confine him to Locations, and subject him to the harsher laws by which the Transvaal Kaffir is governed.” ~ Vol. I, pp. 224-225

Before May 5, 1895

“So far as the feeling has been expressed, it is to degrade the Indian to the position of the Kaffir.” ~ Vol. I, p. 229

Sept. 26, 1896

“Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.” ~ Vol. I, pp. 409-410

Before May 27, 1899

“Your Petitioner has seen the Location intended to be used by the Indians. It would place them, who are undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs, in close proximity to the latter.” ~ Vol. II, p. 270

June 1, 1906

“The Boer Government insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs.” ~ Vol. V, p. 59

Source:  Gandhi and South African Blacks ( http://www.gandhiserve.org/e/cwmg/cwmg.htm )

*(NOTE-The term kaffir is considered a racial slur used in reference to indigenous Black South Africans.) 

Gandhi also campaigned against the efforts of the Dalits, The Black “Untouchables” of India, and for the maintenance of the caste system right up to his death.

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

2. There are currently no statues of our own heroes and heroines on our campus:

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. 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. Indeed, what would have been more fitting than to erect a statue of the former member of the University Council, Mr. Sam Aboah, who financed the construction of the quadrangle, and also financed the planting of the teak trees on the top of the Legon Hill near the Registry.

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

3. Removal of racist symbols from “world-class” universities:

The University of Ghana seeks to be a world class university. At world class universities, even former bastions of slavery, apartheid and white supremacy, statues and other symbols associated with controversial persons have been pulled down or removed. Below are just a few examples:

- August 2016: Yale University is in the process of removing stained glass windows that depict enslaved Africans. It is also reconsidering keeping the name of Calhoun College, named for John C Calhoun, a 19th-century vice-president, South Carolina senator and Yale alumnus who established himself as a vocal advocate for slavery. In April 2015 President of Yale, Peter Salovey said the name would remain. He has since appointed a new committee to develop guidelines for proposals to remove historical names from university buildings -- including Calhoun's.
- May 2016: Yale announced it would name a residential college, set to open in 2017, for Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, a black Yale Law School alumna and civil rights activist.

- March 2016: A committee tasked with re-considering Harvard Law School’s seal in light of its ties to slavery recommended that the Harvard Corporation revoke the emblem’s status as the school’s official symbol. The seal bears the crest of the former slave-owning Royall family, whose donation helped establish Harvard’s first law professorship in the late 18th century. 

- November 2015: Georgetown University renamed two buildings on campus, Mulledy and McSherry Hall, that honour former presidents who organized the sale of slaves to a Louisiana plantation to help pay off the school's debt. (The school has not yet chosen permanent names, but for now Mulledy Hall will be called Freedom Hall, and McSherry Hall will be named Remembrance Hall, according to the Washington Post).

- October 2015: Rhodes University established a renaming team to remove the name of Cecil Rhodes, former prime minister of the Cape colony, and one of the founders of apartheid.[3]

- March to April 2015: First the senate and then the Council of the University of Cape Town voted to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes.

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

4. Protests against statues of Gandhi throughout the world:

There have been protests against Gandhi's statues in Irving, Texas in 2014. According to Gandhism.org, "past protests occurred at Gandhi statues in California in 2013 in the cities of Fresno and Cerritos, in San Francisco in 2011 and 2010, in Flint, Michigan in 2010," in London in 2008 and in 2003 and 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Gandhi lived for 21 years and where he is known for his role in the establishment of the infamous caste-like apartheid system.

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

5. There was no consultation about the placing of the statue:

The University of Ghana has a tradition for the naming of buildings—a committee works on this and seeks the views of members of the University community and important stakeholders as the case may be.  While we speak here about a statue and not the naming of a building, we are of the view that similar principles of transparency and consultation should apply.  In the case of the Gandhi statue it would appear from responses the immediate past Vice-Chancellor gave to emails on the University email list, that he took the decision alone.  He explained that the statue was a gift from the embassy of the Republic of India. To questions about what we received or were promised in return no answer was forthcoming.[4]  

We urge Council and the management of the University of Ghana, that in the future when buildings are named or statues erected, that colleagues from requisite Departments be consulted so it does not appear as if our academics do not have pertinent information.

We can do the honourable thing by pulling down the statue. It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power. Some harm has already been done by erecting the statue. We have failed the generation that look up to us, namely our students.  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? The same goes for the human rights lecturer, the International Law lecturer, the Political Science lecturer teaching on apartheid in South Africa, etc. However, to allow the statue to remain on our campus will do even more harm and make us appear to hold double-standards.

We should not bury our head in the sand and expect that the storm will die down.

We thank you for your attention!

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

For questions or comments contact:

Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo (UG - IAS)

Prof. Akosua Adoma Perbi (UG - History)

Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua (UG - Law)

Dr. Ọbádélé Kambon (UG - IAS)

Mr. Mantse Aryeequaye (Accra Dot Alt)

#GandhiMustComeDown Movement  

 

Contact Emails:

obadele.kambon@gmail.com

adomako@gmail.com 
naanugbor@yahoo.com


___________________________________________________
[1] Commonly known by his supporters as Mahatma ‘great soul’. We will avoid using the title Mahatma in this write-up and rather use Gandhi’s birth name.
[2] http://www.legonconnect.com/gandhi-in-legon-p-leeeeeeeeeeease/

http://ugfile.com/the-deception-of-mahatmas-iconography-why-ghandim...

http://pulse.com.gh/features/mahatma-gandhi-will-gandhi-fall-in-acc...

https://rawgist.com/ug-pull-ghandis-statue-racist/

http://pyrexgh.com/reasons-gandhi-statue-must-taken-legon-campus/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHLIoR9B2m3/

http://radiounivers1057.com/2016/07/11/university-of-ghana-students...
[3] http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/rhodes-university-seeks-renaming-tea...
[4] It has been reported on the Government of Ghana’s website that there is a financial angle to this on a governmental level:http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/news/2848-ghana-and-india-sign-th...

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Chairman of Council/Government Appointee
    Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi
  • University of Ghana
    Members of the University of Ghana Council

To sign the online petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-cou...

Views: 125

Replies to This Discussion

Ghandi did nothing for African people while he lived in Africa and did nothing for the Dalits in India. Dr. Ambedkar, the great Dalit leader, clashed with Gandhi when Ambedkar wanted Dalits to have a certain number of reserved places in the Congress, alongside other groups which had reserved places.  The Dalits have a great deal in common with people of the African Diaspora in terms of the way they are treated.  Under Hinduism, they are not allowed to get an education or do any but the lowest, most menial jobs.  Dr. Ambedkar is my spiritual hero as he successfully challenged many of these restrictions. 

Thanks for sharing this.

Gandhi was not truly nonviolent, as he put pressure on the Dalits, whose communities are among the poorest and most oppressed in India. Please check out these links:

Because of the caste system, Gandhi refused to allow rights to be granted to the poorest people in India. Interesting article by NVC practitioner and author Miki Kashtan

http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/gandhi-and-the-dalit-controver...

Why Dalits in India have a problem with Gandhi: he came from one of the highest castes and pressured some of the poorest people in India.

http://www.countercurrents.org/dalit-mountain200306.htm

Gandhi and the Dalit Controversy - Could Gandhi ever be considered a person of good will towards the Dalits in India? Gandhi put them under a great deal of pressure.

http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/gandhi-and-the-dalit-controver...

Third Letter From Francis To Okoampa On Gandhi Statue Petition
http://theblacklistpub.ning.com/group/calltoaction/forum/topics/gan...

“Dr. Danquah was a protégé of the celebrated and iconic God-father of West African nationalism and the pioneer Pan-Africanist, Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford. In his [Danquah’s] own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, ‘Ekra Agyemang’…” (Nana Ofori Atta Ayim).

We brought up this quotation for a good reason—which we explain shortly, the reason being that Nkrumah was never “another prime political and philosophical protégé of Mahatma Gandhi” in the sense of Danquah being “another prime political and philosophical protégé of Joseph Casely-Hayford.”

This distinction is extremely important. The greatest influence on Nkrumah was Marcus Garvey though his popular book—“The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.” W.E.B. Du Bois was the other mentor whom Nkrumah worked with on several projects aimed at decolonizing the African world (Danquah was intellectually influenced by T.H. Green, V.S. Solovev, F.H. Bradley and others).

In fact such was and is the influence and importance of W.E.B. Du Bois that, the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe would review a book about him, titled “Seizing the World: History, Art and Self in the Work of W.E.B. Du Bois,” and publishing it in an Afrocentric journal (see the Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, (Sept. 1997), p. 126-129).

In the meantime here is Brent Powell has to say:

“King best articulated his convictions in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’

“The 1963 letter supported and expanded the concepts first presented in Thoreau’s essay, injecting nonviolent direct action into the American tradition of protest…

“The American tradition of protest, strongly influenced by Thoreau’s writing on civil disobedience, includes the notion of non-violent, direct action.

“Martin Luther King, ‘fascinated’ and ‘deeply moved’ by Thoreau, built upon the work of both Thoreau and Gandhi.

“Likewise, Gandhi also admitted that, ‘Thoreau’s ideas greatly influenced [his] movement in India…”

In other words, before Gandhi came into Martin Luther King, Jr.’s intellectual life, there was already Henry David Thoreau who greatly influenced both men!

(Brent Powell. “Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and The American Tradition of Protest.” Source: “The Organization of American Historians Magazine of History” (The OAH Magazine of History). Publisher: Oxford University Press!).

THE MORAL END AS MORAL EXCELLENCE: DANQUAH VERSUS NKRUMAH

In sum, the lesson here is that influencing each other, mentorship and tutelage are normal dimensions of the human experience. When it is about Nkrumah, all his bold and successful initiatives, achievements, intellectual development, and political vision are credited to others. However, Nkrumah was genuine enough to give credit to those who contributed to his success story. K.B. Asante said this about Nkrumah:

“He had the talent for grasping new ideas and the weakness of giving them form and calling them his own.”

On the one hand John Mensah Sarbah advised Nana Ofori Atta 1 to allow Danquah to study or pursue a degree in law if he was to be useful to him, the king, and his subjects. Nana Ofori Atta 1 heavily taxed his subjects to pay for Danquah’s education and living expenses while abroad. Yet when he returned from abroad he neglected the people of Akyem whose sweat sponsored his education.

Instead, he [Danquah] chose to spy for and to conspire with the colonial authorities and foreign intelligence outfits against his own people. Now some American intelligence officials, American and Ghanaian scholars, historians, and researchers have exposed his underhanded dealings with the C.I.A.

On the other hand, Nnamdi Azikiwe encouraged Nkrumah to study at his alma mater, Lincoln University in the United States, if he was to be useful to his people. The latter returned to the Gold Coast and put his education at the disposal of the people. The rest, they say, is history.

Ironically, Danquah’s moral end was antithetical to moral excellence!

ON THE NATURE OF THE GANDHI CONTROVERSY

None of the professors at the University of Legon who petitioned for the removal of Gandhi’s statue hates Danquah, since they did not include either Nkrumah or Danquah in the petition and since the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe did not present a shred of evidence to support his position just as he has always done on Ghanaweb and other web portals.

The fact, however, remains that these professors are more in tune with the controversy on the scholarship on Gandhi’s stay in South Africa and the controversial roles—if checkered—in the worsening the Dalit situation in India! Influential world-famous Dalit scholars and thinkers from B.R. Ambedkar to Arundhati Roy (and several non-Indian scholars, researchers, and historians) have written extensively on these subject matters. Unlike the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, they hard facts of history are on the side of Profs. Profs. Kambon, Ampofo and their colleagues!

The interesting point of it all is that we did, in fact, read the Wall Street Journal article (“Why Didn’t Mahatma Gandhi Ever Get the Nobel Prize?”) the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe cited in his uninformed piece, largely because an investigative journalist friend of ours, who was a reporter for the paper, brought it to our attention in 2014!

Regrettably, the article doesn’t say anything substantive about the controversial legacy of Gandhi when analyzed from the standpoint of contemporary revelations on the subject matter. The fact is that no one can tell this complicated and controversial legacy in 15-20 paragraphs. More information on Gandhi and his legacy had appeared in print since 2014 when this article was published).

However, after taking a look at the article (“Did NDC erect Gandhi’s statue at Legon to spite JB Danquah?”) we can assure writer of this poorly written article that he has not done any serious reading on the subject matter. This is because this author has read most of the important academic texts on the subject (We have also had numerous discussions with some US-based Indian students, professors and writers). To name but three primary sources, Gandhi’s own autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” his other book “Satyagraha in South Africa,” and finally, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi” negate the substance of Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe’s article.

The latest academic text on his 21-year stay in South Africa—“The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer”—by two South African ethnic Indian academics, Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, is largely based on Gandhi’s own corpus of writings and other contemporary primary sources which rather paint a different picture than what Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe had previously presented in his piece of yellow journalism.

Still, the idea of Gandhi being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prizes on some three or four occasions is nothing new, not even surprising. President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing to deserve the prize in the first place. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and the Argentine dictator Juan Peron (who offered protection and sanctuary to Nazis and Nazi sympathizers) were all nominated for the Prize at one point or another.

Moreover since the Norwegian Nobel Committee (the Nobel Foundation) declassified it nomination archives/database covering the periods from 1901 to 1956, researchers have revealed that Jawaharlal Nehru, the man with whom Nkrumah and others founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), was considered eleven times for the Nobel Peace Prize (Note: The Nobel Foundation classifies information about those who recommend potential winners, namely nominees, for any of the categories of the Prize for 50 years)! This is how we have come to know that the American public philosopher, activist, sociologist and women’s rights advocate, Jane Addams, was nominated 91 times between 1916 and 193. She finally was awarded the Prize in 1931 (she passed on in 1935).

Notwithstanding the above, there are millions in India who will oppose the idea of Gandhi being awarded the prestigious award. Renowned Indian scholars such as Arundhati Roy have demanded the removal of Gandhi’s statues from public spaces and public spaces named after him renamed. Now, let us turn to the Wall Street Journal article from which the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe selectively quoted to support his biased position. For those who have not read the original article, here are the other statements Mr. Jacob Worm-Muller made about Gandhi (our emphasis):

“He is, undoubtedly, a good, noble and ascetic person–a prominent man who is deservedly honored and loved by the masses of India…sharp turns in his policies, which can hardly be satisfactorily explained by his followers. He is a freedom fighter and a DICTATOR, an idealist and a nationalist. He is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly, an ordinary politician…had many critics in the international peace movement… He was not consistently pacifist and that he should have known that some of his non-violent campaigns towards the British would degenerate into violence and terror…”

CONCLUSION

The fact of Gandhi being a dictator was one of the primary reasons Nathuram Vinayak Dodse, the man who assassinated him, cited for the assassination. His nine-page book—“Why I Killed Gandhi?” (Or “Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?”) —elaborates on this. The speech can be found free online (see Part 3 of this series).

Fact is, it was not only Godse who viewed Gandhi as a dictator. There were (and still are) many Indians who think he was a dictator. In other words, many Indians still regard Gandhi today as a dictator just as this uncanny spin doctor of a journalist called Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe has always regarded Nkrumah as a dictator. This explains why he [Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe] consciously did not include the part of the Wall Street Journal article where it specifically mentioned Gandhi as a “dictator.”

He has done this on a number of occasions in which he mentions the titles of references, only to tell his unsuspecting readership entirely different stories, spurious accounts of our political history. He usually does, namely putting a spin on our political history when he writes about Nkrumah! His negative revisionism has failed to make an impact even within the camp of his unsuspecting readership.

On a final note, the article continues elsewhere on why Gandhi was denied the Nobel Peace Prize:

“One of the committees was also of the view that Mr. Gandhi was not a “real politician or proponent of international law, not primarily a humanitarian relief worker and not an organizer of international peace congresses…”

We shall return with Part 4!

By Francis Kwarteng

Do you have more to share about this story - photos or video etc - you can send them to: (newsghana101@gmail.com)

Third Letter From Francis To Okoampa On Gandhi Statue Petition
http://theblacklistpub.ning.com/group/calltoaction/forum/topics/gan...

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