A controversial statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi has been pulled down at the University of Ghana following protests and petitions for its removal.
The figure was removed between Tuesday night and Wednesday from where it had stood on a recreational area of the university campus in Ghana’s capital of Accra since 2016.
Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration approved the statue’s removal, university spokeswoman Stella Amoa told CNN on Friday, following petitions by the university’s council to the government. CNN contacted the ministry for comment Friday but did not immediately receive a response.
After its unveiling two years ago, the monument sparked protests among students and faculty members, who claim that Gandhi was “racist” and African figures should be put up first, according to a Change.org petition.
Gandhi was renowned across the world for his peaceful activism and remembered for his successful push for India’s independence from Britain’s colonial rule. He was assassinated in 1948.
Nicknamed the “Soldier of peace,” he lived in South Africa for 21 years, but some passages in his early writings about the African continent have generated controversy.
Citing passages attributed to some of these writings, lecturers petitioned the University of Ghana Council to take down the monument, saying the independence leader made racist comments about black South Africans.
“How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the black race and see that we’re glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?” the petition reads.
Ghana’s former government promised to relocate the statue after the protests two years ago, but it remained standing until this week.
Obadele Kambon, head of language, literature and drama at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, hailed the move to take the statue down.
“His utterances when he was alive show he did not want to be with us black folks,” he told CNN. “Why would we want to be with him after his death by having his statue on our campus?”
Activists in Malawi in southeastern Africa also see Gandhi as “racist” and are protesting the erection of a statue of him in the city of Blantyre.