A Malawian group campaigning against the erection of a Mahatma Gandhi statue obtained a court injunction stopping the government from going ahead with the project.
The group operating under the banner Gandhi Must Fall Movement was granted the injunction at Blantyre high court, the proposed district for the statue. According to the group, “We do it for Malawi and the future. Our country is not for sale. We will honour our own heroes.”
Before going to court, Malawians set up a change.org petition to be signed on social media with the hopes of attracting 10,000 persons to sign in favour of not erecting the statue. So far, over 2,500 persons have signed.
The statue has been a subject of controversy in the country as citizens who are against Gandhi’s statue have argued that erecting the statue is an insult to the country’s heroes because they believe the Indian hero is not worth the honour in Africa due to racist remarks he made during his stay in South Africa several years ago. The government, on the other hand, has a counter opinion.
The government stated that Mahatma Gandhi promoted values of simplicity, fought against social evils, promoted human and civil rights as well as uplifting of social well-being of people, and is a role model for human rights campaign for both Africa and India.
Furthermore, the Gandhi statue according to the Malawi government will strengthen Malawi-India relations, adding that India requires the statue as a condition for funding construction of the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre, a $10 million (About MK 7.3 billion) infrastructure project which India is replicating in nine African countries.
The Gandhi must fall movement did not start in Malawi. In 2015, a man was arrested for vandalizing a statue of Gandhi in Johannesburg with the word #GandhiMustFall. In 2016, Ghanaian professors petitioned the University of Ghana and managed to remove a recently launched statue of Gandhi from the campus.
Currently, there is a statue of Gandhi in Church Street, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Memorial Garden, Jinga, Uganda and eight other countries outside Africa.