Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) recently advocated that the myth of Gandhi’s so-called non-violence be taught in West African schools. Do we want our children to be brought up on a diet of propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies?
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi alias Mahātmā was able to deceive his way into the hearts of many, including notable Black men from Kwame Nkrumah, Martin Luther King, Jr., to Nelson Mandela by intentionally “hiding” the truth about who he really was using what we term “impropagandhi.”[i] It may surprise some that Gandhi – through his words and/or deeds – supported every war in his lifetime, including the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the Bambatha Rebellion (1906), World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).[ii] In this brief article, I will use nothing but the words of the real Gandhi, an itinerant warmonger, to explode the pervasive myth of the non-violent Gandhi, focusing on his role in the British war against the amaZulu during the Bambatha Rebellion. On 18 November 1905, Gandhi wrote:
If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.[iii]
He would later bemoan not getting weapons with which Indians could join in the slaughter, writing:
The pity of it is that the Government…have not taken the elementary precaution of giving the necessary discipline and instruction to the Indians. It is, therefore, a matter of physical impossibility to expect Indians to do any work with the rifle; or […] any work in connection with war with much efficiency.[iv] […] The substance of it is that the Indians are not able to go to the battle-field, but that they can assist the men at the front with the requisite amenities.[v]
Later, Gandhi again agitated for weapons to join the fray in which 3,000-4,000 amaZulu were eventually massacred:
The acceptance by the Government synchronizes with the amendment of the Fire-Arms Act, providing for the supply of arms to Indians […] to give Indians an opportunity of taking their share in the defence of the Colony.[vi]
Although relegated to being a stretcher-bearer of the British empire,[vii] Gandhi was nonetheless still thirsty for “Kaffir” blood ruefully remarking in a diary entry “[…] we finished the day’s journey, with no Kaffirs to fight.”[viii]
Later in life, revisionist Gandhi would claim that in 1906, during the Bambatha rebellion, he had a so-called life-changing epiphany. Yet, in reality, the very year after in 1907 he was back on the warpath against the amaZulu once again, writing:
There is again a rebellion of Kaffirs in Zululand. […] The Indian community must come forward at such a time without, however, thinking of securing any rights thereby. […] We assume that there are many Indians now who will welcome such work enthusiastically. Those who went to the front last year can do so again.[ix]
Gandhi would later lie about all of this in his autobiography saying “my heart was with the Zulus” when his contemporaneous writings clearly expose that he really wanted firearms to assist the British in massacring them.[x]
Later, during World War I (1914 – 1918), Gandhi gave a speech stating “full assistance should be given in order to overthrow the Germans.” He argued that “Home Rule without military power was useless.”[xi] Gandhi, supposedly wedded to non-violence since 1906, would write in 1918 that “we shall learn military discipline as we help the Empire, gain military experience and acquire the strength to defend ourselves. With that strength, we may even fight the Empire, should it play foul with us.”[xii] [Emphasis added] He also wrote “To him who wants to learn the art of fighting, who would know how to kill, I would even teach the use of force.”[xiii] So much for Gandhi’s supposed vow of non-violence!
In India, home of this supposed doyen of non-violence, Afrikan=Black people are mobbed, beaten and killed in broad daylight to this day.[xiv] To advocate the uncritical teaching Gandhi’s hypocritical brand of so-called non-violence in West African schools is to endeavor to teach West African children to be fork-tongued hypocrites and pathological liars, which will no doubt yield similar results.
Despite relentless “impropagandhi” campaigns, Gandhi was rejected for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948. The Nobel Prize committee saw through Gandhi’s charade and so should we.
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Desai, A., and G. Vahed. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.
Gandhi, Mohandas K. An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth. Boston: Beacon Press, 1927 (1957 Reprint).
Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand. “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book).” New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999.
Joubert, Willem Adolf, and T Johan Scott. The Law of South Africa. Vol. 6, Cape Town
Berea: Butterworths, 1981.
Reporter, Staff. “‘What Happened to Olivier Could Happen to Any African in India’.” thehindu.com, http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/what-happened-to-olivier-could-happen-to-any-african-in-india/article8669934.ece.
Singh, Pieter. “Gandhi’s Support for Every War in His Lifetime.” gandhism.org, http://www.gandhism.org/gandhis-support-every-war-lifetime/.
[i] Improper propaganda about/by Gandhi.
[ii] Pieter Singh, “Gandhi’s Support for Every War in His Lifetime,” gandhism.org, http://www.gandhism.org/gandhis-support-every-war-lifetime/.
[iii] Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book),” (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999)., Vol. V, p. 11.
[iv] Ibid., Vol. V, p. 211.
[v] Ibid., Vol. V, p. 251.
[vi] Ibid., Vol. V, p. 258.
[vii] A. Desai and G. Vahed, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015).
[viii] Gandhi, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book).”, Vol. V, p. 280. A “Kaffir” is a derogatory term used to describe the indigenous Afrikan=Black people of uMzantsi Afrika, the use of which has been subject to legal action in the courts of law there even since the heyday of apartheid. See
Willem Adolf Joubert and T Johan Scott, The Law of South Africa, vol. 6 (Cape Town
Berea: Butterworths, 1981)., pp. 251-254.
[ix] Gandhi, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book).”, Vol. VII, p. 397.
[x] Mohandas K Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1927 (1957 Reprint))., ch. 101.
[xi] Gandhi, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book).”, Vol XVII, p. 76.
[xii] Ibid., Vol XVII, p. 81.
[xiii] Ibid., Vol. XVII, p. 115.
[xiv] Staff Reporter, “‘What Happened to Olivier Could Happen to Any African in India’,” thehindu.com, http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/what-happened-to-olivier-could-happen-to-any-african-in-india/article8669934.ece.
Research Fellow – Language, Literature and Drama Section