Despite the image many try to sell of Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi), he was a racist. A racist is a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another. Gandhi’s writings prove just that. More recently, his writings have created more debate about the man because Professors at the University of Ghana have filed a petition to protest the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on their campus. This petition has also revealed how racist Mahatma Gandhi was towards Africans. His writings clearly show he felt Indian people were superior to Africans and often used the derogatory term ‘kaffir’ to describe Africans to strengthen his case against racism perpetrated towards Indians particularly in South Africa. Gandhi has been described by his critics as an accomplice of colonial subjugation in South Africa. He favored racial segregation that was perpetuated by the colonial government. He even went as far as to support more taxes on impoverished African people and turned a blind eye to the brutality of the Empire on Africans.
In solidarity with the University of Ghana community, please sign their petition on Change.org https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-council-gandhi-s-statue-at-the-university-of-ghana-must-come-down
**Kaffir- an insulting and contemptuous term for a black African.
The following are quotes and summaries taken from his writings that prove he was racist:
In an open letter to the Natal Parliament in 1893, Gandhi wrote:
I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan. … A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.
At a speech in Mumbai Sept. 26, 1896, Gandhi said that the Europeans in Natal wished,
Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness
Protesting the decision of Johannesburg municipal authorities to allow Africans to live alongside Indians, Gandhi wrote in 1904 that the council,
must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.
In response to the White League’s agitation against Indian immigration and the proposed importation of Chinese labour, Gandhi wrote in 1903: “We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.”
Gandhi wrote in 1908 about his prison experience:
We were marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs. There, our garments were stamped with the letter “N”, which meant that we were being classed with the Natives. We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too much to put up with.
In 1939, Gandhi justified his counsel to the Indian community in South Africa against forming a non-European front:
I have no doubt about the soundness of my advice. However much one may sympathise with the Bantus, Indians cannot make common cause with them.
A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.
The Attorney-General of Natal wants to keep the Indians forever “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. We are classed with the natives of South Africa—Kaffir race.
The Orange Free State, the other Dutch Republic in South Africa, beats the record in showing its hatred towards Indians. It has, to put it in the words of its chief organ, simply made the “British Indian an impossibility by classing him with the Kaffir”. It denies the Indian the right not only to trade, farm or own landed property, but even to reside there, except under special, insulting circumstances.
There is a bye-law in Durban which requires registration of colored servants. This rule may be, and perhaps is, necessary for the Kaffirs who would not work, but absolutely useless with regard to the Indians. But the policy is to class the Indian with the Kaffir whenever possible.
Then, with respect to the Indian domestic servants, the only remark necessary is that, as a body, they have proved themselves to be much superior, in capacity, reliability and obedience, to the average Kaffir.
In 1904, he wrote to a health officer in Johannesburg that the council “must withdraw Kaffirs” from an unsanitary slum called the “Coolie Location” where a large number of Africans lived alongside Indians. “About the mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly.”
One of the first battles Gandhi fought after coming to South Africa was over the separate entrances for whites and blacks at the Durban post office. Gandhi objected that Indians were “classed with the natives of South Africa,” who he called the kaffirs, and demanded a separate entrance for Indians.
We felt the indignity too much and … petitioned the authorities to do away with the invidious distinction, and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics and Europeans.