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…says request an affront to African Guyanese
The 1823 Coalition Committee has signaled its opposition to the renaming of Middle Street after Mahatma Gandhi.
At a ceremony on Sunday, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. Srinivasa requested that the Government of Guyana rename Middle Street to honour M.K Gandhi.
“We vigorously oppose this attempt by Dr, Srinivasa to impose the veneration of a person that is known for his racism against African people more so when the world is waking up and condemning Gandhi and in some countries are removing his statues with haste,” the statement read.
The group noted that one of the first battles Gandhi fought after coming to South Africa was over the separate entrances for whites and blacks at the Durban post office. Gandhi objected that Indians were “classed with the natives of South Africa,” who he called the kaffirs, and demanded a separate entrance for Indians. The group noted that in an open letter to the Natal Parliament in 1893, Gandhi 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. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”
Protesting the decision of Johannesburg municipal authorities to allow Africans to live alongside Indians Gandhi wrote in 1904 that the council “must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.”
In response to the White League’s agitation against Indian immigration and the proposed importation of Chinese labour, Gandhi wrote in 1903: “We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.”
** quoted from book “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.”
According to the group a little-known fact of Guyanese History is that Middle Street featured prominently in the events that defined the aftermath of the 1823 Demerara Revolution. “It was on Middle Street the key participants of that revolution were made to drag their coffins behind them on their way to what can only be described as the worst Court Sitting in the history of our beloved country.”
“The Good High Commissioner Dr Srinivasa must have read about the 1823 Demerara Revolution and should be aware of its importance in the struggle for freedom not only for Guyanese but right-thinking people across the world. Hence to suggest naming that last road the heroes of the 1823 Revolt walked on before they were beheaded and some of their heads made to adorn Middle Street as decorations must surely be an oversight.”
The group said the suggestion to rename Middle Street after a man that showed such contempt and disdain for African people is an affront to all Africans and right-thinking persons.
“We honour and commemorate our brave Ancestors that fought against the worst form of human degradation described by the United Nations as the greatest crime against humanity
We call on the Government of Guyana to stand with African Guyanese against this humiliating and disrespectful request which is truly an insult to all freedom loving peoples.”
[7:22 PM, 10/4/2021] John Smith: A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the famed Indian independence leader, has been removed from a university campus in Ghana’s capital, Accra.