Protestors in Malawi have stopped the construction of a Gandhi statue after claiming that Mahatma Gandhi was racist. More than 3000 people signed a petition against the building of the statue in Malawi Africa. The statue was scheduled to be built in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, with a price tag of $10 million dollars. A concert hall named after the Indian peace activist was supposed to be built along with the statue. However, an activist group named “Gandhi Must Fall” got a judge to halt construction until a hearing could be carried out, reports the Daily Mail.
Gandhi at the age of 23 moved to South Africa to work as a human rights lawyer. When Gandhi went to S. Africa he thought of himself as “Briton first and Indian second.” But reality hit him hard when white people racially abused him because of his skin. He was not allowed to sit next to white people and he got kicked off a train after he refused to leave first class. He ended up staying in S. Africa for 21 years where he fought for the rights of Indians. He went to prison for seven months fighting racist laws.
Gandhi is seen as a hero today but a recent book by S. African university professors claim that Gandhi was racist against black people. In the book, “The South African Gandhi Stretcher-Bearer of Empire”, the author writes Gandhi had expressed “disdain for Africans”, reports The Washington Post. The book uncovered Gandhi’s old writings that take the halo off Gandhi. He refers to black people as “savages” and “kaffirs”, a derogatory slang word for black South Africans. Additionally, Gandhi fought to separate Indians from Africans to get closer to white people.
Gandhi wrote in 1904, “About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.”
In 1893, Gandhi wrote an open letter to the Natal Parliament, “I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan. … 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.”
Malawi’s foreign minister defended the statue saying, “Gandhi promoted values of simplicity, fight against social evils. Gandhi is a role model of a human rights campaigner for both Africa and India.”