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Protesters vandalize Mahatma Gandhi statue in South Africa, label him ‘Racist’

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

A group of people defaced a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa by throwing buckets of white paint on it. The protesters also ranted slogans of racism against the iconic freedom fighter, a newspaper report said.

According to security guard Ntandzo Kwepe the incident occurred yesterday when a group wearing African National Congress regalia came in a car at about noon and threw buckets of white paint on the statue and surrounding plaques detailing Mahatma Gandhi’s history in South Africa.

“They said we would not stop them because Gandhi was a racist man,” Khwepe said, and added that the protesters bore placards saying, “Racist Gandhi must fall.”

As the group tried to flee, one person was nabbed, though he remained nonchalant about it saying his political bosses would rescue him. Police spokesman Kay Makhubela said he would be charged with malicious damage to property.

The statue in the center of the city is unique as it is believed to be the only one in the world showing Gandhi clad in his court robes as a young lawyer.

The statue is on a public transport hub square which was renamed Gandhi Square because the offices in which he practiced law during his stay in the city is on the periphery of the square.

Ironically, the incident took place on the same day  Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of the iconic leader, who is widely revered across the globe, in Germany.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza condemned the incident and denied the ruling party’s involvement, saying that they could have been posing as ANC members to discredit the party.

Since the first democratic elections in 1994, a number of statues of Gandhi have been erected across South Africa.

One is at the at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg, where he was kicked off a train compartment reserved for whites, prompting the start of his Satyagraha movement in South Africa and later in India.

Former President of India, Pratibha Patil had also unveiled a bust of Gandhi and a permanent exhibition of his time in South Africa at Constitutional Hill  in Johannesburg, the seat of the country’s highest court.

There have been shouts of racism against Gandhi by black youth groups in recent months for the alleged use of the derogatory term kaffir, for indigenous blacks in his writings.

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Astronaut Floats in Space on Mural Sporting a Gandhi Patch on Shoulder

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions

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Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN. Wikimedia

The high-tech future of green jobs and the Gandhian virtue of the dignity of work meld their messages on a six-storey high mural commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN that was inaugurated on Tuesday.

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions.

The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at the inauguration that the mural addresses global concerns of decent jobs and the environment.

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Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN. Pixabay

He said the mural effort goes beyond the diplomatic work at the UN of dealing with resolutions to a new diplomatic area of reaching out to people to create broader awareness of issues.

Victor Ash, the artist who painted it while perched high on a cherry-picker, told IANS: “I mixed different ideas and came up with this ‘green astronaut’ that is also worker – the worker from the future who would be working in space.”

And to commemorate the anniversary of Gandhi’ birth, he said he added Gandhi’s image as a logo on the arm of the astronaut.

Ash said that one of his inspirations was India’s record in 2017 of planting 66 million trees on a single day.

The mission building with a red-stone facade was designed by the internationally acclaimed Indian architect Charles Correa, but one of its sides was bared to the bricks after the neighbouring building was torn down and a hotel was built on the site with a deep setback.

The mural now decorates that side without impinging on the building’s Correa design.

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The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees. Wikimedia

The mural was one of several sponsored across the city by ILO to commemorate its centenary with a project called Street Art for Mankind that aims to spread the message of decent work for all with sustainable development and social justice.

Portugal-born Ash said that he had painted a mural at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai during its Summerfest.

He said that he had started as a street-artist in Paris, where he had studied, and later went into doing paintings for galleries.

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“But it was only the studio work and exhibiting in galleries was not reaching such a broad public,” he said.

“So I went back to the street and did murals because it has a much bigger impact and you can actually transmit messages much better than just exhibiting in galleries for a few specific people.” (IANS)