Prof. Ernest Aryeetey’s rather detailed article on how the recently removed statue of India’s globally famous father of that billionaire country’s independence struggle of the largest constitutional democracy came to be planted on the campus of Ghana’s flagship academy, makes fascinating reading. But even more significantly, both the article itself and the story that it narrates or carries disturbingly and scandalously reflect the seemingly ingrained canker of blistering inferiority complex that clearly afflicts even the most prominent and powerful citizens of the land, largely our foremost intellectuals and politicians. This observation has absolutely nothing to do with the indisputable fact of whether the legendary Indian leader deserved to have his statue erected on the campus of Ghana’s oldest and foremost citadel of higher learning.
Rather, it has everything to do with our national or collective sense of self-worth, dignity and self-love or patriotism. The fact of the matter is that if any leader or distinguished statesman deserved to have his statue or personal monument planted on the sprawling campus of the University of Ghana, Legon, it ought to have been that of the man who is on canonical record as having fiercely fought for the establishment of this globally renowned institution by the extant British colonial regime. I am here, of course, referring to the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics, to wit, Dr. Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah. Incidentally, both Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. JB Danquah were graduates of the John Stuart-Mill-founded liberal-progressive University of London. Both thinkers also had another aspect of their lives in common; which is the fact that both Messrs. Gandhi and Danquah lived and attended the University of London a generation apart; both men also studied law at that globally famous public institution.
The difference between how Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Danquah are, respectively, portrayed by the leaders of India and Ghana is clearly and inescapably reflected in the scandalous chain of bizarre events that culminated in the erection of the Gandhi statue on the campus of the University of Ghana, instead of the statue of Dr. Danquah. We must also significantly point out the fact that such act of national treachery or betrayal was orchestrated by former President John Dramani Mahama and his much-rumored paramour and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms. Hanna Tetteh. But that such flagrant act of inexcusable betrayal was literally rubberstamped by then-Vice-Chancellor Aryeetey and his staff of University Administrators is all the more to be pitied.
But, of course, it goes without saying that there is enough blame to go around, as New Yorkers are wont to say. The prime culprit here is former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, whom, I was told, nearly a decade ago by the most reliable source in Akyem-Abuakwa, rather flippantly and some say, blasphemously, chose to erect a Danquah statue in the traditional Okyeman capital of Kyebi, while establishing two research institutions named after the former President on the campuses of both the University of Ghana, Legon, and the Kumasi-based Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). It well appears that Ghanaians may very well be counted among the least self-aware and/or self-respecting citizens of any nation in the world. The Ancient Egyptian Scholars and Philosophers are today globally renowned for having accurately observed that the highest level of knowledge is a knowledge of one’s self. “Know Thyself” is said to have been inscribed on one of the architectural wonders of the greatest civilization of the Ancient World, The Pyramids.
But I strongly beg to differ with those pseudo-scholars and half-baked intellectuals at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana who have rather facilely, albeit predictably and myopically, presumed to reduce the great complexity of the life of Mahatma Gandhi to the single most ignoble adjective in Western culture, to wit, “Racist.” We could readily couple the latter adjective with that of the common traditional African usage of “Tribalist” and one could rest assured that absolutely no Ghanaian and/or African leader would fare any better than the globally immortalized subject of this article.
But what is even more significant to underscore here is that as an Indian leader, first and foremost, owed Africans absolutely no civic, cultural, political or moral obligation, whatsoever, any more than our own President Kwame Nkrumah owed any group of people outside the land of the people who made the former their leader. This pretty much recalls a 1958 CBS-Television interview with then recently elected Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, of Ghana, in which the latter cavalierly claimed that outcries of racism and racial segregation by civil and human rights activists like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were grossly exaggerated (See Richard Mahoney’s “JFK: Africa Ordeal”). Based on the preceding suavely calibrated political dodge, would any levelheaded and critically thinking African American endorse the widespread celebration of the legendary Ghanaian leader in Black communities all over the United States today? If the answer is yes, then, of course, Gandhi deserves no lesser treatment from Ghanaian citizens.
Indeed, the greatness of either leader inheres more in the wellspring of inspirational role-modeling example that each of them generated across a multiplicity of cultures, nationalities and climates and geographical time zones. To be frank with the Dear Reader, I also resent the rather devious attempt by the Indian government to imperialistically apotheosize the proverbial Indian Personality through the propagandistic marketing of the statuary icon of Mahatma Gandhi. But, here again, the onus of successfully fighting off such ethno-national supremacist bigotry lies with our own national and local leaders.
The preceding observations, notwithstanding, I am still elated to learn that the Gandhi statue has found unarguably the most fitting and well-deserved home in the institutional establishment of Ghana’s globally renowned and greatest peacemaker in our time, to wit, the immortalized Mr. Kofi Annan, the first indigenous African Secretary-General of the United Nations. Like Gandhi, Mr. Annan was globally recognized by the Swedish Academy with the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe Ghanaians do not deserve to be graced with the statuary presence of Mahatma Gandhi, after all. But, of course, I also fully recognize and appreciate the fact that mine is the convicted articulation of only one person’s opinion, however well-considered or informed such opinion may be.
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