By Duncan Mlanjira
Citizens for Progressive Action, which held a vigil at the Indian High Commission offices in Lilongwe on Friday in protest of the plans by the Indian government to elect a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, says they are unperturbed that the Indian High Commission rejected to receive petition.
“We are happy that our action was noticed and we went on to deliver the petition to Lilongwe City Council, who will pass it on to the Indian High Commission,” said the groupings Chief Operations Strategist, Pemphero Mphande.
The petition reminds the Indian High Commission that the group, under the ‘Gandhi Must Fall Movement’, obtained an injunction to stop erection of the statue in Blantyre at Ginnery corner for two reasons.
“Firstly that Gandhi was a racist who loathed black people and said hateful things about black people, particularly between 1893 and 1914 when he was in South Africa.
“We as black Malawians and Africans have overwhelming evidence that demonstrates that Gandhi from the age of 23 to the age of 41, campaigned vigorously for the rights of Indians while seeking to relegate Africans as sub-humans in their own continent.
“He sought to separate Indians and black Africans at workplaces, prisons, trams, schools, neighbourhoods, warm-spring baths, footpaths, trams, trains and other public spaces.
“He even joined the colonial army as a medic, while encouraging his countrymen to serve the British Army which slaughtered 4,000 black Africans.
“After the murder of black Africans, he even wrote to say that that some ‘Kaffirs who were killed would soon be forgotten’.
“The question that he had an epiphany in regards to black African rights is simply not convincing and as a people who have historically gone through tragedies such as the slave trade, colonialism, we reject this blatant act of mental imperialism.”
The petition goes on to say that Gandhi never contributed anything to the history of this country and such don’t want his statue in Malawi.
“In India last year, your own citizens toppled the statue of Lenin and leading politicians in your parliament openly declaring that foreign statues have no place in India.
“Then why do you, as a country, want to erect the statue of a foreigner who has no bearing on Malawian history?
“In the same spirit, we do not want to erect the statue of a foreigner who thought we black Africans are inferior to Indians.
“While the matter of the above civil case is still in court, you went ahead to announce that you would erect your statue at the would-be Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Center, belittling the will of many Malawians who voiced out against this statue through a petition, social media outlets, radio shows and TV shows.
“We find this offensive that the owners of this country can be disrespected in this manner by disregarding the judiciary of this country which is yet to decide on this matter.
“We have chosen to limit our protest-goers to 50 people and if our demands are not met, we will continue to hold more and bigger vigils and we will also concurrently take other courses of action to mobilise the wider citizens of Malawi to reject the statue of Gandhi.
“We are giving you 7 days to respond to this, failing which we will announce the next course of action on behalf of Malawians against Gandhi statue,” says the petition.