Open Letter to Rafiq Hajat Over Gandhi

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Dear Rafiq,

I have read your sentiments on the Mahatma Gandhi issue with keen interest. You have categorically labelled the movement as appealing to the racial divisions that exist In Malawi. You wrote and I quote,
“Perhaps we do not deserve the statue of such an exalted spirit because it will remind us of our pathetic mediocrity everyday”.

You think we are mediocre as a country. You think Gandhi deserves a statue in Malawi because he is an exalted spirit.

As one of the lead petitioners against the statue and on behalf of all Malawians, that trusted us to obtain an injunction against the same, I feel terribly hurt by your remarks and accusations. You call yourself a Questor after social justice and human dignity- I would not expect you to support this. And you are a well educated person- I would expect you to be objective and understand history better. I’m 26 years old and growing up, I have been one of the people that admired your activism. I must say that after today, I have lost my respect for you because you have grossly misrepresented our arguments, accused us of being racist, made a one sided argument and called Malawians pathetically mediocre. I would like to believe that your argument is not because you are a Malawian of Indian descent but that it is what you genuinely believe.

Allow me to put things into perspective by responding to your allegations;
1. On lack of integration and racial divisions- Indians segregate themselves. They live in their own communities, make friends amongst themselves, develop business partnerships amongst themselves, marry amongst themselves, they make millions everyday but hardly commit to social responsibility yet they are happy to pay bribes and give donations to political parties- as a matter of fact most Indians who are very wealthy people employ black labourers and under pay them. I have seen Indians who look at black women as sex objects that they can sleep with but cannot marry. This begs the question of if whether they look at black Malawians as fellow human beings that they can interact with and marry from. The day, they will learn to see us as equals, we will be one happy family because marriages are what create relationships among people of different origins. That said, im not saying all Indians are like that.

2. On Malawians being racist- I think we are the most tolerant people on earth. For all the ill-treatment our people get at hands of some Indians, we could have seen xenophobia. But we are not that and I can assure you there will never be such in Malawi because we understand equality and humanity.

3. On us being mediocre- We are not mediocre. We are a decent people that have suffered so much political injustice, that are oppressed by foreign governments such as India with imperialist ideology. The one time that we have chosen to react to bullies will not make us mediocre.

4. On us deserving a statue of Gandhi- statues have sentimental value and are erected by people to honor men and women that had impact in their lives. Gandhi did not have an impact in our lives. Secondly, you should be aware that in March this year India declared there was no place in India for statues of foreign leaders; why then are they offering/imposing one on Malawi? They are nothing but an imperialistic, self-centered government who we rebuke.

5. On Gandhi being an exalted spirit- He was a racist man who insulted black people by calling them Kaffirs, savages when he was in South Africa between 1894 and 1914. You can find his hatred towards blacks in word and deed in the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi volume 1 to 12 made available to the world by the Indian government.

Lastly, I would like to say this: as a country we are poor and are going through a difficult time economically. Even then, our honor will not be sold for money. Tough times do not last, tough people do. You are Malawian, you should know the struggle we are going through. In this time, we want to love one another regardless of race to work together to make our country better than it is. If you want to see integration, go to work and tell your fellow Malawian Indians to love fellow black Malawians; not to see them as labourers or customers but people they can marry, live and do business with. Until then, we will remain distant and divided but our divisions will never escalate to conflict because we are peace loving people. Unlike you, I hope that in my life time I can see us live together. There is hope.

Yours in quest for a better, unified Malawi,
Pemphero Mphande

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5 Comments

  1. AS a CEO, I strongly condemn Rafik. Malawi as a nation does not need statutes. it’s just by chance that you are able to speak this nonsense now. No wonder Hastings Banda chased your grand parents from Malawi.

  2. Vuto lamwenye amawona ngati anthu akuda ndiwopanda nzeru, infact I blame our political leaders sometimes you should be a little bit harsh to strengthen things

  3. This time around I am not nil against Rafik but humiliated on the pro Gandhi statue it is of no moral value to this country and it’s loving people they can put the statue of in all indian homes but sorry not in Malawi

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