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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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Chocolate Ingredient Cacao Dates Back To 5,400 yrs Ago

A growing interest in cacao flavors, indicates a return to a time when chocolate wasn't just an ingredient buried in a candy bar.

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chocolate
A worker holds dried cacao seeds at a plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela. VOA

New research strengthens the case that people used the chocolate ingredient cacao in South America 5,400 years ago, underscoring the seed’s radical transformation into today’s Twix bars and M&M candies.

Tests indicate traces of cacao on artifacts from an archaeological site in Ecuador, according to a study published Monday. That’s about 1,500 years older than cacao’s known domestication in Central America.

“It’s the earliest site now with domesticated cacao,” said Cameron McNeil of Lehman College in New York, who was not involved in the research.

The ancient South American civilization likely didn’t use cacao to make chocolate since there’s no established history of indigenous populations in the region using it that way, researchers led by the University of British Columbia in Canada said.

Cacao,chocolate
-A cacao pod hangs from a tree at the Agropampatar chocolate farm co-op in El Clavo, Venezuela. VOA

But the tests indicate the civilization used the cacao seed, not just the fruity pulp. The seeds are the part of the cacao pod used to make chocolate.

Indigenous populations in the upper Amazon region today use cacao for fermented drinks and juices, and it’s probably how it was used thousands of years ago as well, researchers said.

Scientists mostly agree that cacao was first domesticated in South America instead of Central America as previously believed. The study in Nature Ecology & Evolution provides fresh evidence.

Three types of tests were conducted using artifacts from the Santa Ana-La Florida site in Ecuador. One tested for the presence of theobromine, a key compound in cacao; another tested for preserved particles that help archeologists identify ancient plant use; a third used DNA testing to identify cacao.

Chocolate
A light almond cream candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies in Kansas City, Kansas. VOA

Residue from one ceramic artifact estimated to be 5,310 to 5,440 years old tested positive for cacao by all three methods. Others tested positive for cacao traces as well, but were not as old.

How cacao’s use spread between South America and Central America is not clear. But by the time Spanish explorers arrived in Central America in the late 1400s, they found people were using it to make hot and cold chocolate drinks with spices, often with a foamy top.

“For most of the modern period, it was a beverage,” said Marcy Norton, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World.”

The chocolate drinks in Central America often contained maize and differ from the hot chocolate sold in the U.S. They did not contain milk, Norton said, and when they were sweetened, it was with honey.

 

cocoa, chocolate
A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, Jan. 29, 2016. VOA

By the 1580s, cacao was being regularly imported into Spain and spread to other European countries with milk being added along the way. It wasn’t until the 1800s that manufacturing advances in the Netherlands transformed chocolate into a solid product, Norton said.

Michael Laiskonis, who teaches chocolate classes the Institute of Culinary Education, said he’s seeing a growing interest in cacao flavors, indicating a return to a time when chocolate wasn’t just an ingredient buried in a candy bar.

Also Read: Consuming Cacao May Improve Vitamin D Intake, Says Study

He said he tries to incorporate chocolate’s past into his classes, including a 1644 recipe that combines Mayan and Aztec versions of drinks with European influences.

“It’s something that’s always been transforming,” he said. (VOA)