Was Mohandas Gandhi a racist?

Dilip M. Menon in Africa is a Country:

GandiIn April 2015, the statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Gandhi Square, Johannesburg was almost covered with white paint by a young protestor before he was arrested. The previous months had seen a sustained agitation at the University of Cape Town for the taking down of the statue of Sir Cecil Rhodes – the imperialist and racist benefactor of the University. The statue came to stand in for a colonialism yet to end. In this attack on pigeon perches all over South Africa, a statue of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in Durban was covered in red paint; perhaps only because he was white, and not as an indictment of his poetry. There was some irony to the fact that the statue of Gandhi was almost whitewashed, considering the better part of his life was spent in fighting white imperialism. This month, professors at the University of Ghana called for the removal of the statue of Gandhi that had been unveiled by the President of India in June. All of these instances are reflective of a rethinking happening in Africa of the role of colonialism, anticolonialism and the idea of African identity.

The politics of statuary represents a deeper crisis located in questions of belonging, entitlement and exclusion in postcolonial Africa. In 1986, the Kenyan writer and intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong’o (formerly James Ngugi) wrote his manifesto Decolonising the Mind, arguing for linguistic decolonization and combating the continuing influence of English as a language and European thought in politically decolonized, but intellectually still-colonized Africa. Thirty years down the line, the same issues have resurfaced; Ngugi, Frantz Fanon, and the South African thinker of black consciousness, Steve Biko are back on the agenda as South Africans and Africans, more generally, ask themselves, what has not changed. African universities have been ravaged by the attack of neo-liberal thinking and privatization that have made universities into factories and leeched them off politics. In South Africa, a battle has just been joined. The Feesmustfall movement that commenced in late 2015 challenged both high fees and the exclusion of youth from universities. The movement also protests against a syllabus that is nothing more than a version of courses taught in Euro-American campuses. The universities in Africa are haughtily monolingual in a multilingual landscape and the issue of African knowledge systems is not even considered. We gave up this battle, if it was ever fought, in Indian universities fairly early on, producing generations of academics to service the Euro-American knowledge economy, much as we produced clerks for the British colonial service.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Gandhi and statues of him?

More here.