Student activists call for reconsideration in plans to unveil Gandhi statue in Manchester city centre

Activists argue the statue is a major insult to minorities in the community


Following the Manchester Arena bombing of May 2017, Manchester City Council have approved the erection of a 9-foot-tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi to be unveiled in front of the Manchester Cathedral on 25 November 2019.

While the plan has cited "promoting peace" as its primary cause, student activists from University of Manchester have called on the City Council to reconsider.

Student activists used the hastag #GandhiMustFall which was previously used during efforts to remove a similar statue at the University of Ghana.

University of Manchester Students' Union Liberation and Access Officer Sara Khan tells The Tab Manchester exclusively: "In Britain we're surrounded by icons that uphold and glorify [its] imperial past, perhaps nowhere more so than at historical universities".

October is Black History Month and while many know of Mahatma Ghandi as a human rights activist, the open letter references Ghandi's lesser known anti-black ideologies, of which the statue would be a direct insult to Manchester's black and Kashmiri communities. Ghandi referred to Africans as "savages", "dirty" and "like animals" and additionally, was known to sleep next to underage girls to prove his celibacy.

"Diversity initiatives are barely scratching the surface of a centuries-old, deeply entrenched problem," says Khan. "People of colour can still perpetuate racist ideologies, and Gandhi is a perfect example of that".

Khan, like other activists, is encouraging the City Council to instead promote historical figures who did not support racist and colonial thinking.

Manchester City Council have not yet acknowledged the letter.