Pres. Weah’s 4,000-Seat Conference Hall to Be Named After Mahatma Gandhi, a Known Racist

MONROVIA, Montserrado – President George Weah’s announcement of the construction of a conference hall on the Bali Island appears to have come with the stipulation that the 4,000-seat structure is to be named after the popular Indian freedom fighter and anti-black racist, Mahatma Gandhi.

“The Liberian leader said the 4000-seated Conference Hall will be named after the late Indian Prime Minister, Mahatma Gandhi, while its construction will be funded by the Government of India,” an Executive Mansion release disclosed (Although Gandhi is considered the father of modern India, he was never prime minister, Indira Gandhi however, who is unrelated to him, did serve as India’s first female prime minister).

While Gandhi is a popular figure in India and across the world, he has been taking on a more controversial image for his writings during the 21 years he spent living in South Africa under the Apartheid system.

A 2015 book published by two South African professors revealed several condescending views Gandhi held about Africans. He considered them “savage,” “raw,” and living a life of “indolence and nakedness.” The revelation also identified that he campaigned relentlessly to prove to the British rulers that the Indian community in South Africa was superior to native black Africans.

In one of his letters, he wrote, “I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan. … A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa.”

It was this awareness of Gandhi’s views that led a group of university professors in Accra in 2016 to successfully call for the removal of a statue of Gandhi that had been erected during the visit of the Indian president. The professors said they preferred that African heroes and heroines were celebrated.

When asked to comment on why the Liberian government would allow a prominent center to be named after a man who held such racist views against blacks, Presidential Press Secretary Sam Mannah told The Bush Chicken in an interview on Tuesday that the naming of the hall after Gandhi was one of two conditions under which the Indian government said it would fund the construction.

Mannah said the other condition laid by the Indian authorities was for the Liberian government to provide the land for the project.

“The purpose of naming the conference hall in honor of Mahatma Gandhi was a condition given by the Indians who are the sponsor of this project,” he said.

He said while the popular Indian politician might have lived an imperfect life like anyone else, he also rendered meaningful contributions to India and the world in general. He described Gandhi as a champion of peace, who fought the British for India’s independence.

Weah led a tour of the Bali Island on Monday, which he said he intended to transform into the New Monrovia, commencing with the construction of a “state-of-the-art” international conference center and other “standardized” structures.

Featured photo by Pip Wilson

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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