Accra - Ghana's government said on Wednesday that it wants to relocate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi off a university campus after professors launched a petition claiming he was racist.
A statue of Gandhi was unveiled in June at the University of Ghana campus in Accra by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee as a symbol of close ties between the two countries.
But in September a group of professors launched a petition calling for the removal of the statue because they say Gandhi was racist and that the university should put African heroes and heroines "first and foremost".
"It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power," said the petition, which quotes passages written by Ghandi that say Indians are "infinitely superior" to black Africans.
Ghana's ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that it has followed the controversy with "deep concern" and that it wants to relocate the statue.
Safety and controversy
"The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy," it said.
"While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve," said the ministry, emphasising that Ghana and India have "championed the struggle for the liberation of oppressed peoples around the world."
Statues on university campuses have recently sparked charged debates in Africa as students wrestle with the legacy of colonialism and history of racism on the continent.
Last year, students in South Africa successfully campaigned for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a notoriously racist mining magnate who died in 1902, from the University of Cape Town campus.
Gandhi, an Indian liberation hero, became a global peace icon after his non-violent protest movement helped India to win independence from Britain.