Gandhi in Johannesburg, South Africa, February 1908 | Commons
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There is a reason why Ghanaians protested the Gandhi statue and said #GandhiMustFall.

There is enough textual evidence to back the scholarly claim that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was racist. According to Indian political historian Ramachandra Guha: “By the time he was in his mid-30s, Gandhi no longer spoke of Africans as inferior to Indians.”

To debunk this demonstrably false assertion by Guha, we will take a brief look at Gandhi’s writings from his mid-to-late-30s and early-to-mid-40s up to the time of his departure from uMzantsi Afrika (South Africa), and see if they qualify him to be called an anti-Afrikan/anti-Black racist.

Many people across the world who previously admired Gandhi and hailed him as a ‘Mahatma’ (great soul) may be experiencing what is called ‘cognitive dissonance’ (the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information). This psychological state has been induced by what I call ‘impropaGandhi’ (improper propaganda about Gandhi).


Also read: Gandhi does not need statues and Ghana does not need advice on what to do with them


“Those who suffer from cognitive dissonance reject, explain away, or avoid new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves.” If this describes you, keep reading.

From Guha’s article, we can ascertain at least one of three possibilities. That Guha:

  1. does not know much about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
  2. is intentionally lying about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (in true Gandhian fashion).
  3. is unable to do simple arithmetic.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October, 1869.

In Gandhi’s autobiography, the reader is conned via impropaGandhi into believing that Gandhi had a life-changing epiphany and transformation in 1906:

“[…] Thus brahmacharya which I had been observing willynilly since 1900, was sealed with a vow in the middle of 1906.”

(Satyagraha in South Africa: Navajivan Publishing House Ahmedabad, 1972 reprint. By M. Gandhi & V. G. Desai. 1927, pp. 90-91.)

Gandhi (centre) with his secretary, Miss Sonia Schlesin, and his colleague Mr. Polak in front of his Law Office, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1905 | Commons

With this supposed epiphany in mind, let’s take a quick look at a sample of Gandhi’s views on Afrikan-Black people immediately before that vow at the age of 36:

22 May, 1906
“It was a gross injustice to seek to place Indians in the same class as the Kaffirs.”
(Vol. V. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book) (Vol. 98 volumes). New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, p. 226)

‘Kaffir’ is an extremely derogatory term used to describe the indigenous Afrikan/Black people of uMzantsi Afrika (South Africa), and Gandhi was aware that the term was as derogatory as the term ‘Coolie’, which was applied to Indians and to which he took much offence (See Willem Adolf Joubert and T. Johan Scott (1981). The Law of South Africa, vol. 6. Cape Town Berea: Butterworths, pp. 251–254.).

26 May, 1906
“Thanks to the Court’s decision, only clean Indians or Coloured people other than Kaffirs can now travel by the trams.”
(CWMG. Vol. V, p. 235)

Now let’s take a brief look at Gandhi’s views on Black people after his supposed transformation, which ostensibly occurred in the middle of 1906:

6 November, 1906
“Boer leaders […] should not consider Indians as being on the same level as Kaffirs.”
(CWMG, Vol. VI, p. 112)

16 November, 1906
“[T]he Boer mind […] refused to recognize the evident and sharp distinctions that undoubtedly exist between British Indians and the Kaffir races in South Africa.”
(CWMG. Vol. VI, p. 95)

12 July, 1907
“If registration is made compulsory, there will be no difference between Indians and Kaffirs…”
(CWMG. Vol. VII, p. 395)

12 December, 1907
“The Indian of the Transvaal […] is indiscriminately dubbed ‘coolie.’ One hears even in official circles such expressions as ‘coolie lawyer,’ ‘coolie doctor,’ ‘coolie merchant.’ His women are ‘coolie Marys. […]

He is even denied the not always obvious privilege of riding in the same municipal tramcars and Government railway carriages as his white fellow-colonists. His children are afforded no facilities for education except they attend the schools set apart for Kaffirs.”
(CWMG. Vol. VII, pp. 445-446) (emphasis added)

We cannot but point out the double-standard in Gandhi’s laments at being called a coolie, while in the next breath he descends to calling Afrikan-Black people “Kaffirs”. This is when Gandhi was 38-years-old.

12 December, 1907
“Compulsory registration is recognised as signifying nothing less than the reduction of British Indians to the status of the Kaffir.”
(CWMG. Vol. VII, p. 447)

July 3, 1907
“Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised – the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals. […] The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian thrown into such company!”
(CWMG Vol. VIII, p. 199)

2 February, 1908
“The British rulers take us to be so lowly and ignorant that they assume that, like the Kaffirs who can be pleased with toys and pins, we can also be fobbed off with trinkets.”
(CWMG. Vol. VIII, p. 167)

7 March, 1908

“Many of the Native prisoners are only one degree removed from the animal and often created rows and fought among themselves in their cells.”
(CWMG. Vol. VIII, p. 183)

3 July, 1908
“We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs. There, our garments were stamped with the letter ‘N,’ which meant that we were being classed with the Natives. We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too much to put up with.
(CWMG. Vol. VIII, p. 198)

21 March, 1908

“There is nothing for it but to let ourselves be classed with the Kaffirs and starve.”
(CWMG. Vol. VIII, pp. 218-19)

16 January, 1909
“I observed with regret that some Indians were happy to sleep in the same room as the Kaffirs […] We may entertain no aversion to Kaffirs, but we cannot ignore the fact that there is no common ground between them and us in the daily affairs of life.”
(CWMG. Vol. IX, p. 257)

16 January, 1909
“I have, though, resolved in my mind on an agitation to ensure that Indian prisoners are not lodged with Kaffirs or others.”
(CWMG. Vol. IX, p. 257)

The next quote is a brief look at Gandhi’s role in supporting a multi-level caste-like strain of Apartheid in the prisons in South Africa. He was 39 when he wrote this:

23 January, 1909
“[T]here was urgent need for separate lavatories for Indians. I also told him that Indian prisoners should never be lodged with Kaffirs. The Governor immediately issued an order for a lavatory for Indians to be sent on from the Central Gaol.”
(CWMG. Vol. IX, p. 270)

30 January, 1909
“First, why should we bear such hardships, submit ourselves, for instance, to the restrictions of gaol life, wear coarse and ungainly dress, eat food which is hardly food, starve ourselves, suffer being kicked by the warder, live among the Kaffirs […] Better die than suffer this…”
(CWMG. Vol. IX, p. 292) (emphasis added)


Also read: Why Ghanaians are removing Gandhi statues in the middle of the night


Again, we see the blatant “Coolie/Kaffir” hypocrisy in the following quote by Gandhi:

19 July, 1909
“We were locked up with the Kaffirs. There was not a single European officer who described us as Indians. We were called “sammies” or “coolies”.
(CWMG. Vol. X, p. 34) (emphasis added)

8 October, 1909
“We do not get there the food that we are used to, and are classified with the Kaffirs.”
(CWMG. Vol. X, p. 158)

It should be noted at this point that Gandhi lived till 78 and at the time of the preceding quote, he was 40, making him middle-aged (and certainly not in his mid-30s as asserted by Guha). Those who suffer from impropaGandhi-induced cognitive dissonance, who say he was only an anti-Black/anti-Afrikan racist when he was “young”, are being quite disingenuous. Let’s continue:

2 December, 1910
“Some Indians do have contacts with Kaffir women. I think such contacts are fraught with grave danger. Indians would do well to avoid them altogether.”
(CWMG. Vol. X, p. 414)

10 March, 1911
“If the Regulations provide for Kaffir Police, we can fight the Regulations.”
(CWMG. Vol. XI, p. 266)

25 October, 1913
“I saw it reported that we might even ask the Kaffirs to strike. But such is not our intention at all.”
(CWMG. Vol XIII, p. 385)

This quote was the year before Gandhi left uMzantsi Afrika (South Africa) for India, where he turned his attention to robbing the Dalits – the Black untouchables of India – of the double-vote and special electorates. Why does Ramachandra Guha fail to mention all this? Was this out of ignorance or malevolence?

In our chapter entitled “The Pro-Indo-Aryan, anti-Black M.K. Gandhi and Ghana’s #Gandhi Must Fall Movement”, in the book Rhodes Must Fall (Oxford), we focus on the consistency of Gandhi’s pro-Indo-Aryan and Anti-Afrikan/Anti-Black actions throughout his life in uMzantsi Afrika (South Africa). His subsequent disagreements in India with Babasaheb Ambedkar on the demand for the rights of the Dalits are a continuation of his earlier anti-Black racist life.

Gandhi with the leaders of the non-violent resistance movement in South Africa | Commons

Also, it should be noted that racism – like Varnasrama Dharma “caste-ism” – is systemic, and as such, the concrete actions that perpetuate these systems should not be reduced to the idea that it simply consists of saying mean things. From Gandhi’s role in instituting caste-like apartheid and segregation at the Durban post office, telegraph office, and in the jails, to his agitating for military training and firearms to use against the AmaZulu alongside his ‘white fellow-colonists’ at the time of the Bambatha Rebellion (which he later lied about in his autobiography), to the coercion-induced Poona Pact disenfranchising the Dalits, Gandhi’s Pro-Indo-Aryan, Anti-Black racist actions are clear-cut, straightforward and inexcusable.

Further, and more significantly, Gandhi pales (no pun intended) in comparison to the Afrikan/Black heroes and heroines that we could, would, and should choose for ourselves – if we even had the chance to learn about them – based on the principle of self-determination as opposed to external imposition via coercion.


Also read: This leader forced Mahatma Gandhi to change his views on caste


Additionally, if this is to be a serious conversation, it would be useful if those who suffer from impropaGandhi-induced cognitive dissonance cease and desist from dragging out that tired list of Afrikans/Blacks who Gandhi successfully duped with impropaGandhi simply because they did not have the opportunity to research and read his Collected Works.

Finally, I would also like to express solidarity with the Dalits – the Black untouchables of India – who have suffered under the pale white yoke of Indo-Aryan oppression for centuries. Indeed, the struggle for Black dignity, self-respect and self-determination continues worldwide. This is why the faculty in the University of Ghana protested the Gandhi statue with the hashtag #GandhiMustFall.

The author is Research Coordinator, Language, Literature and Drama Section, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. He was also a part of the #GandhiMustFall protest.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. What is really going on is that Hinduism has grown in Ghana. Thus Christian slaves must attack Gandhi, because Christian missionaries find him a nuisance.

  2. Again this is wrong perception, understanding Gandhi through Ambedkar would always leads you to wrong perception. This is unfortunate. Somebody is doing it intentionally.

  3. There is no relation between a person who took non -violence to fight the British and racism, and if it is there that only proves that “to err is only human” what is important in this era to understand the importance and the gift of Gandhi to the modern world , Non -Violence , which was aptly used by Nelson Mandela to fight for equality for the south-Africans ,if this is a paid attempt by a political party and their media to take a potshot towards Mahatma Gandhi is as disgusting as the media and the patron political school of thoughts, this medium is not only painfully shallow and ill-written and misunderstood, the reference of Kaffir, is for the group of people who are natives of the place and Indians called them Kaffirs it has got nothing to do with blacks and if it so be it , Gandhi fought for the independence and freedom of Indians and that is enough for me to respect him

  4. It is not new that Gandhi is being called racist. Neither are the comments new. But to better understand the perspective in which they were made, one has to go back to the society where he lives.

    The society is which M. Gandhi lived was a ‘black and white’ one. Either you are a black, or a white.

    To break down the class society prevalent at the time, Gandhi tried (though not very successfully) to introduce a ‘Brown’ class. It was a critical step for the breakdown of the Black and White system, and needs to be credited with the first effort to break down the British and mostly European system of classification of the world into blacks and whites.

    And Gandhi succeeded partially. In India, he found the same class system prevalent and to reduce the violence on a people regarded less pure than cattle, he gave them the name ‘Harijan’, or people of God.

    To sit and write a book to make money is very easy. To really make an effort to understand one of the greatest statesmen if our time is so much more difficult. Yes, it is true Baba Saheb Ambedkar, who wanted to remove the class system in the Indian society was vehemently against the philosophy of Gandhi, and it is also true that the ‘reservation system’ that applies even today in India to support backward classes or castes prevails even today and in hindsight would probably have been done away with. But if Ambedkar had his way, The class system might have gone, but the people remained poor, destitute without an opportunity to get out of the rat hole.

    It is Gandhi who showed the way and helped create a better India. It is also Gandhi who influenced Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther ?ng Jr, to lead their own class struggles, and Einstein to remark on what a great man he was, who walked on Earth teaching compassion and love.

    Let us understand Gandhi. For abetter world.

  5. ‘Kaffir’, just like ‘Negro’, was not necessarily considered an offensive term in the early 20th century. H. Rider Haggard, an English novelist and contemporary of Kipling and Stevenson, used the term frequently in his novels without any racist connotations (Wiki provides this without any references).

    I will provide multiple instances where Gandhi used the term ‘Kaffir’ in completely non-derogatory contexts or even while talking about their racial emancipation:

    1. “There has been feverish activity on the farm to complete the arrangement for women. Mr. Kallenbach is busy with building operations. The foundation has been laid for a chawl fifty feet long. It is a stone foundation, and Mr. Chinan, Mr. Kuppusamy Naidoo, Mr. Manilal Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi have been working at stone-rolling side by side with the Kaffirs.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; June 20, 1910)

    2. “I regard the Kaffirs, with whom I constantly work these days, as superior to us. What they do in their ignorance we have to do knowingly. In outward appearance we should look just like the Kaffirs. From this you may deduce other reasons also for Harilal not going to India to escort Chanchi.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; August 21, 1910)

    3. “This is what an Indian writes to us in English from Karreedouw. He says that no Indian is permitted to enter Kaffir districts such as the Transkei, etc., which are under the jurisdiction of the Cape. Only white traders are allowed to go there. These traders rob the Kaffirs.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; Nov 5, 1910)

    4. “[…]Men would arise from among them who would become leaders of the Kaffirs. Lord Selborne thought that this was the biggest problem facing South Africa. These views call for some comment. It does not appear that in saying this Lord Selborne was actuated by concern for the welfare of the Coloured people; he said it only because he feared the emergence of a leader from among them. Their sincere well-wishers, however, should welcome the rise of such leaders—the more the better—and encourage them”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; pg.3)

    Atleast from 1909-10 onwards, a marked change in Gandhi’s views on race can be observed, to the extent that he was publishing on Blacks’ issues in his newspapers. The writer also seems to have taken a particular comment (deliberately?) out of context. Here is the comment on “Kaffir” women in full:

    “The whites have been giving strange evidence before the Commission that is going into this subject. They say that the presence of Indians in the Location is a source of annoyance to them, that Indians are immoral, that they harass girls, making unseemly gestures at them, and that they corrupt the morals of the Kaffirs. Many such offensive things were said in the course of the evidence. It is imperative for the Indian settlers to offer evidence to counter this. The Krugersdorp Indians must get ready to meet the situation. If, moreover, there is substance in any of these charges, such habits must be corrected. Some Indians do have contacts with Kaffir women. I think such contacts are fraught with grave danger. Indians would do well to avoid them altogether.”
    (CWMG Vol.10; pg.414)

  6. This appears to me a very facetious article. ‘Kaffir’, just like ‘Negro’, was not necessarily considered an offensive term in the early 20th century. H. Rider Haggard, an English novelist and contemporary of Kipling and Stevenson, used the term frequently in his novels without any racist connotations (Wiki provides this without any references).

    I will provide multiple instances where Gandhi used the term ‘Kaffir’ in completely non-derogatory contexts or even while talking about their racial emancipation:

    1. “There has been feverish activity on the farm to complete the arrangement for women. Mr. Kallenbach is busy with building operations. The foundation has been laid for a chawl fifty feet long. It is a stone foundation, and Mr. Chinan, Mr. Kuppusamy Naidoo, Mr. Manilal Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi have been working at stone-rolling side by side with the Kaffirs.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; June 20, 1910)

    2. “I regard the Kaffirs, with whom I constantly work these days, as superior to us. What they do in their ignorance we have to do knowingly. In outward appearance we should look just like the Kaffirs. From this you may deduce other reasons also for Harilal not going to India to escort Chanchi.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; August 21, 1910)

    3. “This is what an Indian writes to us in English from Karreedouw. He says that no Indian is permitted to enter Kaffir districts such as the Transkei, etc., which are under the jurisdiction of the Cape. Only white traders are allowed to go there. These traders rob the Kaffirs.”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; Nov 5, 1910)

    4. “[…]Men would arise from among them who would becomeleaders of the Kaffirs. Lord Selborne thought that this was the biggest problem facing South Africa. These views call for some comment. It does not appear that in saying this Lord Selborne was actuated by concern for the welfare of the Coloured people; he said it only because he feared the emergence of a leader from among them. Their sincere well-wishers, however, should welcome the rise of such leaders—the more the better—and encourage them”
    (CWMG Vol. 11; pg.3)

    Atleast from 1909-10 onwards, a marked change in Gandhi’s views on race can be observed, to the extent that he was publishing on Blacks’ issues in his newspapers. The writer also seems to have taken a particular comment (deliberately?) out of context. Here is the comment on “Kaffir” women in full:

    “The whites have been giving strange evidence before the Commission that is going into this subject. They say that the presence of Indians in the Location is a source of annoyance to them, that Indians are immoral, that they harass girls, making unseemly gestures at them, and that they corrupt the morals of the Kaffirs. Many such offensive things were said in the course of the evidence. It is imperative for the Indian settlers to offer evidence to counter this. The Krugersdorp Indians must get ready to meet the situation. If, moreover, there is substance in any of these charges, such habits must be corrected. Some Indians do have contacts with Kaffir women. I think such contacts are fraught with grave danger. Indians would do well to avoid them altogether.”
    (CWMG Vol.10; pg.414)

  7. Its an irony that people call politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Akhilesh Yadav or Jyotiraditya Scindhia ‘youth leaders’, who are in their 40s! Never heard anyone calling them Middle Aged men.
    Well, Gandhiji was also a human,so he was not free from imperfections & errors.It is known to all that how he spent his whole life for the upliftment of the downtroddens, leaving behind all the materialistic comforts. He was, indeed, the greatest person of all times.

    It is the personal choice & right of the people of Africa, to remove his statue but diminishing his image here in India is simply ridiculous!

  8. In many occassion I found Nr guha had partial view about Histo
    “The south African Gandhi”
    Stretcher bearer of Empire ” By Awin Desai Clearly mentions that Gandhi considered himself a British subject and repeatedly considered himself separate being from the ” Black Africans”
    Gandhis’s own autobiography repeated ly mentioned His own Pro british views and asked The Indian s in South Africa to show respect to the Colonialist who tortured , assaulted the native africans >
    I n my view Mr Guha had some motive to distort History.

  9. This article shows us our ‘ historians’ of ’eminence’ hide more of history of a person or a country.In that sense this article is to be welcomed.This habit of hiding of flaws of a person or of invaders is peculiar to India.And these historians are lauded and given label of ’eminent’.

    • Revisionism and moral relativism are not unique to us. Refer to the veneration of the American Founding Fathers, all of whom were slave-owners and held views about African Americans that cannot be rationalised today.

  10. I have not read Guha’s book.Wonder if he has taken into account the great and
    constant struggle Gandhi underwent as
    experience and exposure to radical social ideas from 1920s onwards forced him to revise his inherited ideas.Throughout his honesty and conscience acted as his compass during the unceasing turbulence of events and ideas.The Ghanaian scholar has little idea of his evolving social ideas.
    Unlike Tagore he was not born and brought up in a big cosmopolitan
    metropolis,but in a sedate colonial town Porbandar where traditional rites and ideas prevailed.He was sent to London to study for the Bar and the modern ideas he picked up there were all products of the liberal imperialism of late nineties of the 19th century.There he assimilated both ideas of social justice and notions of racial disparity in congruence with Hindu caste system.
    In South Africa having worked for a Muslim client he permanently overcame a most powerful and entrenched prejudice against Muslims.
    Later it was to cost his life and he did not retreat an inch from his conviction in the face of threats that quelled many liberals.In South Africa he was not faced with any challenge to colonial racialism and remained cocooned within colonial racialism.
    While negotiating with Ambedkar he realised for the first time the infamy of untouchability and real horrors of caste system,and he tried his utmost to alleviate their oppressive burden. concurrently his views on race began to change.
    The distance walked by him mentally, reminiscent of his famous long marches, is borne out by an historic letter to Roosevelt as the latter was taking the lead among three world leaders to envision a new order in the post World War II world.He called for freedom from colonial yoke not only for nations of Asia but also for nations of Africa.That would have been impossible had he stuck to his views of
    the years in South Africa.
    Hiren Gohain.

  11. I am a great admirer of Dr. Ramchandra Guha, I hope he will correct his opinion or provide some good alternative reasoning, but I can frankly accept that I am very much delighted by writer’s point of view.

  12. I don’t think he meant all black people were inferior. Only the uncivilized ones. He wanted to be treated fairly so he used the language of the white. The racists were not differentiating between the colored races. They discriminated equally. So he had to say something. Obviously, being against all kind of racism would have been ideal.

  13. Guha’s examples are from Gandhi’s time in India and this article keeps on quoting from Gandhi’s life in Africa. So this is not a reply to his article. Can you similarly show us some quotes of from his life in India that he held the same opinion? People change. As do opinions.

    • That he did not bother to record his change of heart and sincerely regret that he said all those things about black/native Africans is in itself an absentee proof because, as you rightly point out Gandhiji was forever learning and changing his views AND putting that change of heart on record. That he did not explicitly record this change of heart in his writings, that he himself refused food in the Untouchable colonies he visited (on record by him) – all of this is more direct proof than Guha has offered

  14. Students and faculties of University in Ghana are within their right to remove any statue of a person they think considers / considered African black people to be inferior. Infact any self respecting human being would fume at the derogatory remarks Gandhi ji had made. One has to understand that Gandhi ji was not god. As a human being he may have had a lot of drawback, including what is pointed out in the article. May be if confronted with the facts today, Gandhi ji himself may feel embarrassed and apologise for his comments and his point of view. May be that was the language used in those days. As an analogy, the term Negro is considered derogatory today. But when many of us were growing up. people did not think twice to refer a black man as a negro. Then question arises, can we judge Gandhi ji of early 1900 using the standards of late 2018? Another point is Gandhi ji’s life was a relentless experiment with truth. Gandhi ji spent much of his life dedicated to Indian freedom struggle. The method he applied considering deep respect for value of human life, makes one suspect if Gandhi ji was a racist person as is being portrayed. The author of the article even tries to draw out Indian davit’s into struggle of black people and tries to create a divide between fair skinned and dark skinned people. The author has no understanding of Hindu dharma,to which Gandhi ji belonged. Hinduism, with all its imperfection, has tried to keep human divinity as the central theme of all existence. The trivial issue of colour of skin becomes so irrelevant in the the context of debate, when one looks at all living being as divine.

  15. Dr. Zakir Hussain described Gandhiji as an example of how an ordinary man could work on his defects in pursuit of the noble and divine. Gandhiji was constantly learning and growing. He was not an “avatar,” born with mahatmahood, but an ordinary mortal who reached that exalted state through ahimsa, tapa and sanyam. As they say, all saints have a past and all sinners a future.

  16. Everyone has a right to see history from its own viewpoint. Gandhi might not be a Mahatma but definitely one among the greatest Huan being during his period.
    Irony is that people (indians) for whom he faught and took all blame to be now called racist and what not are blaming him for his efforts he made to get some concession through non violence for indian community living in south Africa (indentured labourers). And that’s the reason he participated in boer war.
    Definitely he had some fallacies and who do not have some. But he was a man of conviction.
    Not a great fan of Mahatma, but criticising seeing only one side of the coin is improper.
    And placing someone near to the position of God is also improper , the stand taken in biased writings of Ramchandra Guha.

  17. We have to check some ref.in CWMG ,then we can understand views of Gandhiji .
    In Africa days Gandhiji criticised authorities that they put criminals with right activists prisoners in the prison there.was this racist attitude?
    So now one big group of intellectuals at international level in process to defame Gandhiji. I welcome it.

  18. Looks more like ravings & ranting of a biased one-track mind who wants Gandhi to fall and unanble to understand that Mohandas’s worldview changed and he became wiser as he grew older. The Dalit angle seems influenced by views of Ambedkarites who don’t like being called Harijans. Small minds can’t be expected to even try & understand things beyond their comprehension.

  19. I will not say anything about the people’s thoughts of Africa about Gandhi’s ideology. But due to being a member of India’s Dalit caste, I would like to say only that every Dalit of India is standing with every person of Africa on exploited issue, because both of them have been exploited, In India, Dalits have been exploited on the basis of caste, whereas in Africa there has been exploitation on the basis of color, The similarity between the two is that both of them have been exploited, Therefore, India’s oppressed Dalit, the exploited society of Africa stands together… Baba Saheb doctor Bhim Ram Ambedkar ji spent all his life to liberate the Dalits of India from this exploitation. It was only Baba Saheb’s efforts, that, I am able to answer you today, my ancestors had not any right of study, write, learn anything because of Cast system of India i.e Varn system. In fact, only Babasaheb is the person who has given his rights to the exploited society of India, In Poona Pact, if Baba Saheb was not compelled, then Dalit society could do its development much better today. The population of this society is almost 30 crore in India, which is more than the total population of America.

  20. A somewhat superficial attempt . Gandhis life should be seen in its entirety also after his death .the writer has taken a very limited view.

  21. Quite surprised by some statements made by Mahatma Gandhi…
    But writer could have very well refrained from mindlessly attacking Guha…
    But state ment of Guha is proved false by writer

  22. Gandhi was continually changing and developing. What did the author want to prove? That, Gandhi was 40 and not 30? Gandhi did say all these things. It does not mean he did not speak for Africans. Or else he would not have been acceptable to South Africa.

  23. Let’s call it the making of the Mahatma!

    Even as I feel it needs to be much debated before concluding that the Mahatma was biased?

    Some of the context appears like partially quoting local lingo or information?

  24. Egregious writing. I’ll only cite two reasons, out of a laundry list of eight-nine to exemplify my comment. I sincerely request the editors to at least take a note of the incorrectness in the article.

    1. Reference to cognitive dissonance is technically incorrect. “pursuing reconciliation” is exactly something that does NOT happen in the state of cognitive dissonance. The technical soundness of writer’s idea about this important concept seems beyond flawed.

    2. The writer seems incapable of understanding that a basic routine of sociological research that contemporary connotations of words are malleable across generations. What might be considered dispicable today may have been a popular practice in the past. Perhaps, writer should spend more time digging through the manuscripts of some other progressive contemporaries of Gandhi to check how they were referring African blacks.

    • Dear Siddhesh,

      The reason put forward by you rather reflect immaturity in understanding the the broader message writer was trying to convey:

      1. Cognitive dissonance is not a permanent stage of human state and is followed by Rationalization which author explained in a plain language. It’s a perfect psychological depiction of humans and hardly anybody can escape this hard wiring of brain ( It’s Mind too. Don’t get bogged down and start differentiating between mind and brain) . Dig a more about it and then the argument’s “soundness” will become clear to you.

      2. The meaning of words in a particular era, context, cultural & religious background ( is religion a sub category of culture?- It’s anthropology not sociology) is taken up by linguists not sociologist. The meaning projected by author stands intact unless you propose a one and correct him with it’s “actual meaning by using sociological tools”.

      Last but not least, you countered none of the textual statements which would have given you at least a credibility of , how to put it, as an “argumentative Indian”.

      Take care & enjoy the criticism of what we hold near and dear. This is the only way we can learn and progress.

  25. Appreciate the article for being so specific in placing its arguments and pointing out technical mistakes in Ramachandra Guha’s piece.
    The problems are:
    1) The bulk of Guha’s examples are from Gandhi’s life in India, after his return from South Africa. The current article is mostly focused on his life in Africa.To give Gandhi the benefit of doubt, one could clearly see him revising his opinions/ideas on the issue. MKG was usually willing to admit his mistakes and learn.
    2) It is technically incorrect and deeply problematic to call Dalits ‘blacks’ or even make an un-nuanced comparison.
    3) The article fares poorly in its use of language of civic discourse, and resorts to personal attacks on Guha.

    • Well said, especially point 3. The author seems to believe that his indignation allows him to resort to personal attacks. He doesn’t seem to realise that it is behaviour such as this that leads to stereotypes about certain groups being “less mature”.

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