Malawi: Fresh Campaign to Stop Gandhi Statue From Being Erected in Malawi - Vigil at India Embassy

12 October 2019

Concerned grouping, Citizens of Progressive Action, plan to hold a one-day vigil at the Indian Embassy in Lilongwe on October 25 as fresh protest against the recent decision by the Indian government to still go ahead with plans to elect a statue of Mahatma Gandhi despite earlier public rejection.

At a press briefing on Friday at Alendo Hotel in Blantyre, the groupings Chief Operations Strategist, Pemphero Mphande, said they have decided to take this course of action because, despite the issue being in court, the Indian government announced it will still elect the statue.

Reports say the Indian government plans to elect the statue where it plans to construct the Mahatma Gandhi Conference Centre.

Last year, the Citizens of Progressive Action obtained a court injunction stopping the election of the statue at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre and proceeded with court proceedings seeking to block the process altogether.

Mphande said when they heard of the decision by the Indian government to change venue from Ginnery Corner to where they plan to construct the conference centre, the grouping petitioned the authorities in September to rescind the decision.

"We gave them 7 days to respond to our petition or else we will hold the vigil until our concerns were addressed.

"Those 7 days have long elapsed and we have decided to carry out the vigil protest at the Indian Embassy in Lilongwe from 9am to 5pm.

"If we shall still not receive response, we shall arrange another date for more vigil until we get the right response."

Mphande said in all his life, Mahatma Gandhi never added any value to Malawi and that he never had any connection whatsoever with this country.

"We elect statues for people for sentimental reasons and to us Mahatma Gandhi never impacted Malawi in anyway to deserve such an honour.

"We still maintain that Gandhi was a racist whilst he was living in South Africa. He hated black Africans.

"Why should we honour such a person? What is it that we are honouring? This statue must not be elected."

He appealed to young citizens in Lilongwe to join them on October 25 to add voice to their campaign, saying it's high time young fellows spoke against any wrong decisions the authorities are doing.

Scholars have highlighted evidence in past years showing the revered freedom-fighter, whose theories of civil resistance helped India throw off British colonialism and inspired generations of activists including Martin Luther King Jr, held derogatory views towards native communities in South Africa.

A 2015 book by two South African writers pointed to instances where Gandhi complained that Indians were being forced to use the same separate entrances as Africans, meaning "their civilised habits ... would be degraded to the habits of aboriginal natives".

"About the mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly," he wrote in a letter in 1904.

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