Father of Apartheid: How Gandhi Dehumanized Black Africans

Obadele Kambon explains how Gandhi was the father of apartheid

For years, controversy has brewed around Gandhi statues placed outside India. On several continents — Europe, Africa, and North America — people of all backgrounds have stepped forward to protest the Indian political figure. In Ottawa, Canada at the University of Carleton, a statue installed in 2011 has galvanized student leaders to demand its removal.

In November 2017, an African student at Carleton published a letter in the student newspaper saying, bluntly, “Remove the Gandhi statue.” Kenneth Aliu, president of Carleton’s African Studies Student Association, believes history has been twisted to conceal Gandhi’s racist past. “His proximity to whiteness as one who continually espoused anti-Black rhetoric is, perhaps, one of the reasons behind his apotheosis,” writes Aliu. He explains, “For you to deify Gandhi, some people have to be erased from history. You don’t engage with how his activism as a whole was detrimental to certain segments of society.”

Controversy centers around the argument that Gandhi was the “father of apartheid” — a shocking claim to make about a person who is sometimes valorized as “the greatest man who ever lived” — and that he systematically dehumanized black Africans while living in South Africa from 1893-1914. Here’s the story of how African thinkers are constructing the narrative.

Sujatha Gidla: Just because Gandhi started his political career in South Africa, Africans think that he’s a great guy. But lately they have been finding out.

Female Ghanaian Narrator: Some students of Ghana’s premier university, the University of Ghana, are demanding for the removal of a statue of Gandhi from the university’s premises. Their reason? Mahatma Gandhi was anti-African and a black racist in thought, words, and deeds.

Ghanaian news host: The statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been the subject of controversy for some few weeks now among lecturers at the University of Ghana. Now, the statue which was unveiled in June 2017, essentially was donated by the Indian government, has brought lots of controversy because, Mahatma Gandhi as it were, is known to be anti-black and a racist.

Stan Pearson: Somebody said something about Gandhi being racist, and I was like, “huh?”

Jada Bernard: He was divisive, racist, and classist. Oppressive even toward his own people. The statue says, “his life is his message,” and that is the sad part because his life is something that has not been told correctly.

Arundhati Roy: Most people in the world know about Gandhi through Richard Attenborough’s film, which was really a terrible distortion of history.

Bernard: But the real Gandhi was a hateful Gandhi.

gandhism.net speaker: The real Gandhi spewed racism against Africans.

Roy: He only referred to Africans as “kaffirs” or “savages.”

Gidla: During his stint in South Africa, he looked down on black people in Africa. He called them “kaffirs.”

Bernard: He hated the South Africans, the Natives. He thought that the “kaffirs” were uncivilized. He compared them to animals.

Roy: And he called them savages and “kaffirs.”

Obadele Kambon: He referred to them as “savage,” “half-heathen,” “one degree from an animal,” “kaffir,” which is a very derogatory term. So, all of these things.

Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua: He sought to denigrate blacks to a lower level, and he used language which was clearly racist, such as “kaffir,” “these are raw people,” “these are naked people” who cannot stand for their own and therefore there should be different status for Indians and for blacks.

Bernard: He always fought for whites to be superior and for blacks to be inferior, and when he came with the idea of equality or of a complex system in South Africa, it wasn’t so the blacks could be treated better but it was just so that the Indians wouldn’t have to be treated like blacks.

Roy: Gandhi believed in racial segregation. His first victory in South Africa was to campaign for a third entrance to be opened in the Durban post office so Indians would not have to use the same entrance as “kaffirs.”

Pearson: He chose to further participate in the denigration of African people.

Bernard: He was actually very much so instrumental in that apartheid system that was set up in the early 1900s to the point to where he’s thought of as being the father of apartheid.

Kambon: Now, another thing that he’s known especially amongst the black people of South Africa, is as the father of apartheid. Now, we are talking about this in terms of institutionalized apartheid. Before this it was British at the top, everyone else underneath. Now, Gandhi, he appealed to the British, saying, “look, we’re all Indo-Aryans, so as Indo-Aryans you shouldn’t let us be associated and classed with the raw kaffir again.” Now, later on, people who didn’t know about Gandhi’s earlier role said, “oh, we looked at Gandhi and we got inspiration to fight against apartheid.” But they don’t know that if it wasn’t for Gandhi specifically — not all the Indians, Gandhi specifically — they wouldn’t have had apartheid as it existed and as it manifested.

Roy: There has been a very distressing misrepresentation of history by the court historians, and it is a scandal that’s basically hidden in plain sight.

Appiagyei-Atua: The racist past is what we think should be exposed for the world to know because there seems to be a gloss over that aspect of his life.

Bernard: And to erect a statue like that, to erect the tons of statues that we see all over, to continue to propagate him as a man of peace is a slap in the face.

Kambon: It really is a blow to the dignity of African people.

Inusah Awuni: I am a staunch believer of the African personality, and identity, and the dignity of Africans, and so, to find such a racist statue on our campus, it’s more insulting than I could ever imagine, and I support that statue to be pulled down.

University of Ghana student: I’ve learned that the guy’s a racist, and I’m not sure his statue should be allowed to be in this school because it doesn’t serve as a good example for we the students who are here to learn from. So I think that statue should go off.

Appiagyei-Atua: There is a problem with the statue in the sense that Gandhi has a racist past, and in a situation or an environment where we champion the cause of equality — racial equality — I don’t think that this statue has a place here.

Proof Groucho Marx Was Right

The latest federal money-thieving ploy has Barack Obama at the throats of the country’s top bankers demanding “repayment” of their TARP debt. To quote the president: “We want our money back.” At least, that’s the determined slogan Obama is using to conceal his sparkly new scheme for helping fund his trillion dollars per pop pet projects.

I typically sneer at the common American preoccupation with obsessing over relatively minor political issues while turning a blind eye to the most significant grievances against the federal government. This particular issue, however, provides an excellent demonstration of the devious inner-workings of politicians’ minds. What Obama is really trying to do is tax America’s banks more than he does already. In order to justify the new tax, he’s invoking the massive TARP loans made in 2008, as well as appealing to the convenient specter of “public anger” over last year’s executive bonuses. From an Associated Press news article on the subject, we read:

The tax, which would require congressional approval, would last at least 10 years and generate about $90 billion over the decade, according to administration estimates. “If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers,” Obama said.

… The proposed 0.15 percent tax on the liabilities of large financial institutions would apply only to those companies with assets of more than $50 billion—a group estimated at about 50. Administration officials estimate that 60 percent of the revenue would come from the 10 biggest ones.

We’ll choose to ignore Obama’s ironic crack that, were the money to be repaid, it would go to the taxpayers. After all, last I checked, the $338 million repaid by four small banks in March did nothing to enlarge my bank account nor will it reduce my tax burden by a single cent this coming April. But that’s not the aspect of the president’s comments upon which I want to focus, since the real issue is the obvious smokescreen of Obama’s feigned “we want our money back” plea.

Although Obama invokes the TARP loans, several of the 10 richest banks in America have already managed to repay that money. For instance, JPMorgan and State Street both paid off their debt in full last summer. But consider the math of Obama’s scheme, wherein sixty percent of the estimated $90 billion (over 10 years) in revenue is predicted to come from the top 10 richest banks. That means that the new tax, while supposedly justified by the outstanding TARP loans, will saddle banks like JPMorgan with up to $5.4 billion in taxes.

Contrary to the president’s rhetoric, an April, 2009 Wall Street Journal article offers evidence that Obama’s new taxation plan is not genuinely motivated by reclaiming TARP money. In the article, author Stuart Varney tells of a “prominent and profitable bank” which was forced to accept less than $1 billion in TARP loans. As of last year, the chairman wanted to repay the money with interest, but his request was denied by Obama’s administration because of the bank’s prominence. Varney claims this was done so Obama could maintain direct control of the banks.

Considering this story, is it really believable that less than a year later Obama has developed pure motives for his sudden crusade to reclaim the so-called “taxpayers’ money”? Please don’t misunderstand me. Not only do I think the banks should repay the TARP money in full, but I believe the so-called “loans” should never have been made in the first place. In this case I believe Obama is attempting to manipulate public sentiment (as politicians are wont to do) to garner support and justification for yet another statist “tax the rich” scheme.

The federal government is certainly in much worse financial condition this year than it was even last. The self-professed “peace candidate” is demanding a record $708 billion in Defense Department funding, plus an extra $33 billion to expand the Sisyphean military operation in Afghanistan, while his minions at the Treasury Department have just reported the Feds are essentially on track to surpass last year’s incredible $1.4 trillion deficit by up to $114 billion. Having achieved the impossible and gotten himself into a worse financial bind than his bungling predecessor, the timing is undeniably ripe for Obama to begin locating fat new sheep to fleece.

However, while Obama does need increased funding to continue enacting his crackpot policies, he doesn’t want that money entering the federal coffers in the form of TARP loan repayments. Allowing the prominent (that is, rich) banks off the hook that easily doesn’t fit into the president’s plans. Refusing repayment allows Obama to keep his fingers in the pie, giving him authority to practically dictate orders to the leading banks and enact his brand of “change” by fiat rather than Congress. Furthermore, while I merely speculate, by ensuring the banks all still owe him a “favor,” Obama potentially retains their indefinite political support. It would be interesting to see if there is some publicly accessible material proof of that theory.

The point is that while Obama does need yet another new source of funding, he desperately wants to avoid losing his unique control of America’s banks. Apparently, he believes the solution is to burden the top-50 richest banks with a new tax. Using this method, Obama can trick the taxpayers into supporting him by deliberately but indirectly misdefining the tax as a repayment of TARP loans. Thus he calms public concern over whether the loans will be repaid without actually giving up his debt-induced control over the country’s financial institutions. As per usual, this underhanded government “fix” will quite possibly create an unpleasant, if presumably unintended, side-effect. In this case, Obama runs the risk of causing greater financial setbacks for the banks by increasing taxation than if he simply allowed them to immediately repay their debts.

If the tax is passed, banks will be responsible for a new tax for years to come in addition to the prospect of still having to eventually repay their TARP loans. Banks such as the one mentioned by Varney, which at least were in strong enough shape to weather the hit of paying off their debt, will find this proposed tax to be a cancer which their weakened immune systems may not be capable of enduring. Because of the reduced liquidity caused by Obama’s new tax, banks will need to become even more risk averse in their lending practices. Yet congressional overregulation and fiat passed down from the string-puller-in-chief preclude them from doing just that, almost guaranteeing that they will ultimately beg Obama to perpetuate his central control in return for another bailout. Of course, the blame for all this lies with the banks, which dug the original hole by accepting government aid in the first place. Regardless, that does not excuse Obama taking advantage of the situation to expand on the Bush regime’s fascist merger of business and government.

This is an excellent demonstration of the deceptive methods used by politicians. That odious breed invariably latches on to the cause du jour, in this case anti-bank public anger, using it as a means of excusing new draconian policies. Inept politicians like Bush can’t always pull this off without drawing the ire of the majority of voters, but some politicians who expertly mask their true intentions behind popular rhetoric have the ability to implement repressive policy to the cheers of the public. Naively, the public imagines such policies will only negatively impact the current enemy of the state, in this case the bankers.

History proves that this strategy can be effectively employed time and time again. The pattern is best represented in a quote attributed to Groucho Marx, who said: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” In our case, the country’s politicians actually created the trouble through Federal Reserve regulation that led to the housing bubble and the bank crisis. Misdiagnosing the very problem they created as the result of “capitalist excess,” political leaders like Obama (and Bush) have responded by using countrywide financial suffering to justify seizing unprecedented levels of control over American business, particularly the banks. Of course, this ludicrously wrong remedy merely perpetuates the cause of the original trouble.

As I conclude, one question we should all be asking is how much of this trouble was created deliberately. Certainly, as the old adage goes, we should never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity, a mental affliction which has practically reached epidemic levels inside the Capital Beltway. Yet there still remain a few savvy and unarguably malicious politicians who are not above intentionally orchestrating a national crisis so as to create a situation where the public begs them to overstep their natural boundaries by seizing some form of “emergency” powers. Although American citizens will suffer at the hands of either political force, a malicious one will prove far more difficult to uproot.