That the Malawi and India governments have stopped the erection of the statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly called Mahatma Gandhi near the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital is interesting and surprising. It is interesting and surprising because, as an academic analyst has observed, this is probably the first time the government of Malawi has ever listened to and given in to the demands of a handful people, using the Internet, and not the streets. In the past, such a petition signed by just 5 000 people would have been ignored and ‘thrown into the dustbin’.
We are told that two or three anti-Gandhi statue activists have since obtained a court injunction against the construction of the Gandhi statue, which interestingly, would be facing the new Mosque being constructed right in the centre of town.
Professor Abiti Dr Joyce Befu, MG 66 and MEGA-1, wondered loudly who really was against the statue of a Hindu father of Indian Independence facing a Muslim prayerhouse. Whose religious war are we Malawians fighting, anyway?
The anti-Gandhi activists have fought hard and have almost won the fight to have no Gandhi effigy in Blantyre because, they argue, once upon a time, Mahatma Gandhi uttered words perceived as racist and demeaning to black, sorry, Bantu peoples. However, the activists have not said whether or not the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre, similar to the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, should also stop or they are happy to see one side of the racist go ahead.
Should the international conference centre still be built using Indian rupees, whose notes bear the face of the same racist Gandhi?
We abhor pretence. Gandhi might have said unpalatable things about black, sorry, Bantu people and we condemn him for that; but Gandhi, like the Biblical Saul, had reformed and been born again, and his method of peaceful resistance has since been espoused worldwide.
We congratulate him for that.
Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, with statues all over the world, also acknowledged the importance of peaceful resistance and abandoned his call for armed insurrection because of Gandhi. And Nelson Mandela was not an idiot. Martin Luther King, Jr, was not an idiot for leading a peaceful resistance modelled after Gandhi to ensure black Americans, sorry, Bantu Americans, could access any American infrastructure like any person of any other race.
We abhor pretence and now we are making our own demands. Our capital city in Lilongwe was constructed with apartheid money. The activists have not protested that we holy Malawians are sitting in offices and walking on streets financed by apartheid South Africa. We demand that all the buildings and streets that make up our capital city and seat of government be demolished hic et nunc. If the government does not vacate voluntarily, we will also launch an online petition and get a high court order against continued use of buildings built with racist money.
We also ask the same government to immediately change all streets and buildings named after David Livingstone and Robert Laws because, we hear, they, too, were racist, overworked our ancestors, denied them shoes, the list goes on.
Finally, we want the Malawi government to demolish the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital because it was constructed with British Slave Trade money. n