A petition to stop Blantyre City Council (BCC) and the Indian Government from erecting a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian activist, at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre continues to dominate Malawi media and invoking “unnecessary emotions”.
The anti-Ghandi campaigners – who have todate mobilised about 3 000 signatures online – want the city council to take action and halt all work on the statue immediately.
They have threatened to hold protests if the city will not listen to the call to stop the construction.
As part of the detailed coverage in the leading daily newspaper The Nation carried editorial comment on the matter. titled “Mahatma Ghandi statue mockery to sovereignty.”
The paper question the terms of agreement between the governments of Malawi and India on the statue.
“Who signed on behalf of Malawians? Who authorised use of the public land for the Ghandi statue or bust as India High Commissioner [Suresh Kumar Menon] is putting it?” queries the paper.
It said there are scores of Malawian heroes as as African freedom fighters, including South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who are much closer home and deserve such honour.
“Surely, Ghandi has no influence on the Malawi nation,” the paper pointed out, criticising Malawi government that it went “too far” by accepting the Indian Government conditionality to put the Ghandi memorial in such a prime area, without consulting the citizenry.
“Malawi is an independent sovereign State with own icons deserving such honour. If the Ghandi statue is a conditionality for the convention centre project, that is undermining the Malawian integrity and sovereignty,” reads the paper.
In the 1 300 word petition titled ‘Stop Erecting Racist Mahatma Gandhi’s Statue at Ginnery Corner’, anti-Ghandi campaigners states that as citizens of Malawi born out of black African descent, they were appalled with Blantyre City Council’s decision to erect Gandhi’s statue in Blantyre.
Reads the petition in part: “When it comes to Gandhi, we cannot deny that he is of historical importance to India and to the world as a symbol of activism. However, Gandhi has a questionable background and character for Malawi to honour him with a statue.”
Gandhi, a globally revered civil right activist, was born in India in 1869 and died in 1948, but literature published after his death has depicted him as a racist.