Heroes aren't always what they seem.
Currently on the BBC website is a story about a petition to remove a statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, otherwise known as Mahatma Gandhi, and the reason is racism. The originators of the petition sight quotes, writings in which Gandhi calls black Africans savages and kaffirs. The quotes have been attributed to an online source called GandhiServe Foundation. This seems to fly in the face of the image of Ghandi, man of peace and equality but Ghandi’s grandson and biographer Rajmohan Gandhi is reported to have said that at the time Ghandi was a 24 years old practicing law in South Africa and was at that time ignorant and prejudiced towards black Africans. With this in mind I don’t doubt the quotes and can understand why some Ghanaians would want the statue removed. There is of course the case of Nelson Mandela. Also known as a man of peace Mandela said the teachings of Ghandi help to bring an end to apartheid. Could Ghandi’s attitude have changed as he grew older and gained more life experience? Of course it could. Even the afore mentioned Nelson Mandela changed his attitude. Jailed for his part in a bombing which saw at least one fatality he became a man of peace and renounced violence. Both Ghandi and Mandela brought about a major political change in their respective countries by peaceful means and this is what the majority of people remember them for. It is why many people look up to them admiringly. Any negative aspect of their lives have already been largely forgotten which is why when they resurface, as in this case, they are even more shocking. But even this aspect shows us good things. It shows you can change and when you know what you are doing wrong that change is easier.
I don’t know if Ghandi’s attitude did change but I do know Mandela’s did. Whether the Ghanaians remove Ghandi’s statue or not is for them to decide, but if they do they may want to replace it. Who should they choose to inspire their future generations? A native Ghanaian would be good. It doesn’t have to be someone who is recognised internationally, just someone who has made a positive difference to their country could inspire. If they decide to go for someone of international notoriety the why not Mandela. Not everything about his life was perfect but he did renounce his violent past instead of hiding from it. He did embrace peace and helped bring about change through peaceful means. He showed the world you can change when you need too and he showed the world that a black man from Africa can achieve great things. He did this at a time when the black population of his part of Africa, South Africa, were seen as second class people.