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Gandhi—the Racist

Indians are ‘Unwanted guests’ in Africa. In the yester years they had to face wrath of Black masses in Uganda and Kenya for their racial bias which they acquired from the white colonialists. Whites are gone from ruling establishments, but the white legacy remains. And now Mahatma Gandhi is under attack, not for invalid reasons.

Claiming Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to be a racist, who considered Indians to be ‘‘infinitely superior’’ to black Africans, academics in Ghana are calling for a statue to be removed from the Ghana University Campus. India’s President Pranab Mukherjee unveiled at Ghana University, Accra, a statue of the Indian independence leader in June 2016. More than 1000 distinguished citizens have since signed a petition calling for it to be torn down, saying that not only was Gandhi racist towards black South Africans, when he lived there form 1893 to 1914, but that he campaigned for the maintenance of the caste system in India. The petition cited several of Gandhi’s writings, in which he referred to black South Africans as ‘‘Kaffirs’’ (a highly offensive racist slur), and complained that the South African government wanted to ‘‘drag down’’ Indians to the level of ‘‘half-heathen natives’’. The memorial to Gandhi is the only statue to a historic personality on the campus. Professors at the Institute of African Studies at Ghana University, and the History Department point out the failure to honour African heroes and heroines was ‘‘slap in the face that undermines’’ Africa’s struggles for autonomy, recognition and respect’’.

The hard reality is that apartheid is not yet a thing of the past in South Africa. Racism is still there. Whites and their Indian supporters continue to believe that they could one day get back their lost privileges and ‘pride’.

Disgruntled whites in South Africa already have enclaves, but hardly anyone wants to live there. Orania and Afrikaner–only town in the Karoo desert since 1991, has its own currency the Ora, and a flag featuring a white boy rolling up his sleeves. It is home to just 1100 people. Isolation of Orania has left it economically unattractive and politically irrelevant. According to the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, more than half of South Africans barely interact with people of other races, except when at work or while shopping. Youth unemployment is around 50%. The economy is verging on recession. Jaqui Gary Gradwell has Voortrekker ancestors, and believes that Afrikaner culture is under threat in the new South Africa. He wants to lead about 40,000 like-minded whites, to a farm in a remote part of the Eastern Cape, to live together in an agrarian idyll. A promotional video for ‘‘Die Eden Projek—The Eden Project’’ has soft-focus photos of happy white families with tractors and chickens, in contrast to images of black rioters, black criminals and President Jacob Zuma. The gloomiest perceptions about South Africa could be reinforced by news stories about white separatists. Surveys indicate that 76% of South Africans thought race relations had improved or stayed the same since 1994, when apartheid ended.

Frontier
Vol. 49, No.26, Jan 1 - 7, 2017