Good people, every city has its own heroes and Mahatma Gandhi has nothing to do with Blantyre.
Unsurprisingly, his statue under construction in Blantyre has stirred a backlash from concerned Malawians petitioning for a stop to the project glorifying the indian lawyer deemed ultra-racist.
A listening government would have halted the monument following objections building up.
But this country has indifferent rulers. They do not care about the will of the citizenry.
Unfortunately, they know a Malawian takes no time to forget, a trait former president Bakili Muluzi publicly ridiculed and exploited to his advantage.
Surely, some outspoken critics irked by the unwarranted glorification of Gandhi today will be seen smiling broadly and posing for selfies in the shadow of his despised statue tomorrow.
History may record that this generation stood for nothing and fell for everything, for it keeps giggling at outrageous things that must depress anyone.
But gullibility does not make the imposition of Gandhi’s monument something to smile about.
The statue arrogantly taking shape at Ginnery Corner is an insult to Africans like its look-alike that was defaced in South Africa and another earmarked for demolition at the University of Ghana in Accra.
During my brief visit to Accra last week, I visited the university where youthful intellectuals share the conviction that Africa has no place for blind exaltation of people who spite the African race.
They rightly reason that the battle against those who hold themselves superior to Africans was long won by the class of their founding president Kwame Nkrumah, Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Senegal’s Leopold Senghor, Tanzania’s Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and our Kamuzu Banda during the breakaway from fetters of colonialism.
The struggle was supposed to end in earnest in 1994 when native South Africans emancipated themselves from repressive white minority rule.
While Africans were dying in the fight for their right to be treated as human beings like any other, Gandhi was penning bigoted epistles despising the majority of South Africans as kafirs (blacks) and inferior to Indians of his ilk.
This is not only derogatory to Africans’ standing as equal and immutable members of the human race in a world where Gandhi-sque bigots segregate people according to skin colour.
The travesties of the Indian hero, venerated as Mohandas, are concealed from many Africans, including Malawians, as only his heroics are taught in school.
But this is why the statue taking shape must fall.
Malawians have no business glorifying anyone who slurs and perceives Africans as lesser beings.
Take Gandhi’s statue to Mumbai if that is where bigotry is accepted and glorified.
Racism ought not to be elevated in a diverse world where diversity makes no one inferior,, but makes people co-exist peacefully and glow like flowers of different petals on the same bed.
Of course, Blantyre, where colonial names decorate every street, already has a road named after contentious Gandhi.
That too ought to be renamed in defense of the virtue of equality prescribed by the Malawi Constitution.
This country is not short of deserving heroes.
In a world where cities set aside space to celebrate their heroes, Lisbon has a monument of voyager Vasco da Gama just as Johannesburg has statues of anti-apartheid icons, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.
Gandhi has become a face of the expansion of Indian influence on the continent, but it is no secret that he has no business with Blantyre City where he never set a foot or performed any wonders.
Indians should stop blackmailing sovereign African governments to erect statues of racists in exchange for infrastructure.
The raging debate over the misplaced monument of the racist from Mumbai only distracts Malawians from government plans to install a multimillion-kwacha statue of former president Bingu wa Mutharika in Lilongwe.
President Peter Mutharika’s brother was a super personification of executive arrogance exemplified by the erection of both statues without clear guidelines and a national consensus . n