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Statue of Mahatma Ghandhi to be Removed from University Campus in Ghana

 The Ghana university Gandhi statue, a focus for claims that the Indian leader was racist towards black South Africans. Photograph: Christian Thompson/AP

The Mahatma Gandhi statue at the University of Ghana campus in Accra will be relocated amid claims that he was racist toward Black South Africans. Photograph: Christian Thompson/AP

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be removed from a university campus in Ghana after professors launched a petition claiming the revered Indian independence leader and thinker was racist.

The statue of Gandhi was unveiled in June at the University of Ghana campus in Accra by Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, as a symbol of close ties between the two countries.

But in September a group of professors started a petition calling for the removal of the statue, saying Gandhi was racist and that the university should put African heroes and heroines “first and foremost.”

The petition states “it is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power,” and quotes passages written by Gandhi which say Indians are “infinitely superior” to Black Africans.

More than 1,000 people signed the petition, which claimed that not only was Gandhi racist towards Black South Africans when he lived in South Africa as a young man, but that he campaigned for the maintenance of India’s caste system, an ancient social hierarchy that still defines the status in that country of hundreds of millions of people.

Ghana’s foreign ministry said it had followed the controversy with “deep concern” and wanted to relocate the statue.

“The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy.” it said. “While acknowledging that, human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve.”

Statues on university campuses have recently prompted bitter arguments in Africa as students wrestle with the legacy of colonialism and history of racism on the continent. Last year students in South Africa successfully campaigned for the removal, from the University of Cape Town campus, of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a notoriously racist mining magnate who died in 1902.

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