Sentletse Diakanyo
Sentletse Diakanyo

On Mahatma Gandhi, his pathetic racism and advancement of segregation of black people

The greatest injustice against the struggle for liberation of black people was the projection of Mahatma Gandhi as committed to a cause against segregation. It is a fallacy that Gandhi in his struggles had any interests of black people at heart. His was a selfish cause to advance interests of Indians while encouraging continuing subjugation of black people. Gandhi held an absurd belief that Indians, along with whites, were a superior race to black people.

He said, “the British rulers take us to be so lowly and ignorant that they assume that, like the Kaffirs who can be pleased with toys and pins, we can also be fobbed off with trinkets … ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness … Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised — the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.”

He conspired with the oppressive white government in promotion of segregation of black people and elevating the importance of Indians above them. Indians believed in their false sense of superiority in that they frequently complained of being mixed in with black people in railway cars, lavatories, pass laws and in other regulations. They demanded special treatment and loathed being considered in the same regard as black people. He protested that, “we are classed with the natives of South Africa — Kaffir race.”

Gandhi ensured that Indians received their elevation above black people and helped entrench segregation laws against black people. His major achievement was the creation of a separate entrance for Indians to the Durban Post Office who previously had to share with black people.

Gandhi wrote: “In the Durban Post and telegraph offices there were separate entrances for natives and Asiatics and Europeans. We felt the indignity too much and many respectable Indians were insulted and called all sorts of names by the clerks at the counter. We petitioned the authorities to do away with the invidious distinction and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics and Europeans.”

There is a growing tendency to try to portray Gandhi as some messiah who also advanced the cause of black people. He cared less about the plight of black people and his sole purpose was to see Indians receive preferential treatment and laws be amended to that effect; while laws governing black people remained in force. He endorsed the ridiculous notion of white supremacy probably in the hope and belief that it would assist his cause for Indians.

In 1903, Gandhi remarked, “we believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they would best serve the interest, which is as dear to us as it is to them, by advocating the purity of all the races and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.”

Gandhi like Winston Churchill believed that black people were stupid savages and barbarians who were prone to unprovoked violence. He believed that the oppressed black people were a threat to their own cause and Indians need to save them from themselves. He said “it means that you take them under your (Indian) wing when you have developed that power of non-violence It will be good, if you fire them (black people) with the spirit of non-violence. You will be their saviour. But if you allow yourselves to be overwhelmed and swept off your feet, it will be their and your ruin.”

Gandhi saw himself as repository of solutions to the problem black people were confronted with, yet he was stubbornly opposed to the notion of black people and Indians fighting side by side against the monster the repressive white government was.

Gandhi, while he may have pretended to sympathise with the cause of black people and to some measure tolerated them, his conduct and utterances indicate that he too detested them. He condemned miscegenation and warned Indian men against canoodling with black women. “Some Indians do have contacts with Kaffir women. I think such contacts are fraught with grave danger. Indians would do well to avoid them altogether,” he said. Clearly he did not condone the sexual rendezvous of some white men in the Cape.

Gandhi, the phony non-violence activist was a decorated Sergeant Major on the side of the British during the Anglo-Boer War and supported the British during the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906 where Zulu impis and chiefs were massacred. His image as a peace-loving activist, champion of civil rights and an anti-racism activist is fallacious. Mahatma Gandhi was a pathetic racist who supported wars that maimed and left thousands dead and openly expressed his admiration for the mass murderer, Adolf Hitler, to whom he wrote,“We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents.”

To continue to honour and celebrate this man is to insult humanity!

  • Nicola

    @ Blake

    You should consider getting your facts straight before putting your opinions up here. Only a tiny minority of pre-colonial South Africans were hunter/gatherers. The vast majority (including the Zulu nation) were agriculturalists with economic and political structures which were subsequently destroyed (for the most part) by the British, most notably by the land act in 1913. I take it you were educated under apartheid?

  • Canada

    Sha, if your house is broken into a couple of times and it turns out that black people were the culprits and this episode repeats itself countless times with black people turning out to be culprits every time, you will be within your rights to label majority of black people as criminals “within your sphere of existence” and based on your experience.

    Does it mean all black people are criminals, No, I am clearly not and many of my friends are law-abiding citizens.

    However coming to my example criminal association with black people will be legitimate based on your experience.

    When white people complain of crime (i.e I mean genuine compatriots) they are not wingeing as it was alleged by one stupid politician, they are raising real and felt infringement on their basic human right. No amount of political correctness and empty patriotism can compensate what you feel after your house s burgled, your loved ones raped, killed or any terrible thing that could happen when strangers walk into your house uninvited.

    This is where I am coming from, I do not have to conduct a national poll of all Indians in all provinces to arrive at my own conclusion within my own experience.

    I have said not all, but majority of Indians I have come across.

  • Ndunankulu

    Interesting point about current generation reacting to previous mis-deeds on the basis that they must defend their forefathers! Imagine German people defending Hitler and insisting streets, towns or airports previously named after him should keep such names. This is what a lot of the defenders of apertheid names seem to be doing. Does this mean they are proud of these mis-deeds because they were committed by whites?

  • SP

    What is the motivation to publicly project this article as some sort of historical newsflash? I really would like to know.

    History is never balanced, it never will be. What is the point of exposing the shadow sides of the people we have made heroes (often for good reasons, because their selfless, courageous actions far outweigh their not-so-proud ones)?

    All this does is create a debate that will never end, re-open healing divisions, take us one step back o the reconciliation road, remind us of a world in which evil triumphs good, and keep the monster of racist discourse alive and well in the public sphere.

    Thanks. Geez!

  • Canada

    The point being made SP is that Gandhi has skeletons in his closet period. Lets not be held to ransom by a threat of reopening the wounds.

    Hitler did exist and he committed all those crimes, is this inciting hatred between Jews and Germans, I dont think so.

    So please, lets all have a chill pill and debate issues within the given context and content, we are not embarking on a pogrond here, just debating.

  • GS van Zyl


    Yes you are milking colonialism and racism. That is what you do.

    Your comment:

    “GS van Zyl, I am disappointed at your comments. We are not milking colonialism or racism ,but reflecting on how historical events have impinged and contributed towards what we understand today.”

    I suggest that there is history before colonialism and apartheid in Africa that you know nothing or very little about. This is because it is in most part unwritten and therefore forgotten.

    Maybe you should study this limited history also to understand the current situation and mindset Africans find themselves in, and not only focus on the last 350 years.

  • GS van Zyl


    Apartheid was not Nazism… Any comparisons between the two are invalid.

  • japes

    He he Mr Sha. You are now finding out that not only whities are racist.

    GS – agree with your comments. We need a bit of tolerance and objectivity.

  • GS van Zyl


    You comment:

    “Often when an unflattering historical reference is made to one particular racial group, members of that group tend to assume defensive position as though what their predecessors did is an indictment or a reflection on them.”

    It is difficult not to react in that way the the source of these frequent comments is always the same. In fact it would be interesting excersise for you to think back and remember how many positive comments you have made about non-blacks.

  • GS van Zyl


    If I frequently make negative remarks about blacks to my friends all the time, they will start to think that I’m racist.

    You very frequently make “unflattering historical references” regarding people with a race different from yours. Go back to your posts and articles and see how many positive vs negative remarks you make regarding whites (and seemingly also indians).

    So what do you think whites think of you? (not that you need to care).

  • Lyndall Beddy


    The “farming” of the Nguni was mostly in cattle. Lesotho, Swaziland , The Transkei and Ciskei STILL have no commercial farming.

  • Sentletse Diakanyo

    GS, it is obvious that your memory has let you down. I have made unflattering comments about prominent people from all racial groups, blacks, white, and Indians. I suppose that makes me an equal opportunity racist then.

  • Blake

    Even if the majority of pre-colonial black south africans had advanced to the iron age, it still doesn’t invalidate the points i made.

  • GS van Zyl

    The key word here is “historical”, Sentletse.

  • Tony

    I wonder why all you folk worry about the past, and spend all this time and effort on it. When the future is of more concern and no matter what you write or say. It will not change anything that has passed by. Gandhi has skeletons in his closet. SO. !! You don’t ?

  • Blake


    Thanks for correcting me. I never knew that the vast majority of pre-colonial South Africans were agriculturalists. Where did you get this information from? I take it you were educated under apartheid?

  • Phura

    Good that he was finally converted, wonder after how much bull he fed the Indians.
    Thanks Sentletse for opening up my eyes to the true Gandhi.

  • Oldfox


    Are you advocating that history should not be taught in schools?

    Planning for the future is usually more important than studying the past. But not always. We can also learn valuable (sometimes invaluable) lessons from history – though humans tend to ignore lessons from history.

  • James Tobias

    I think we should be careful of digging to deeply into revered world personalities lest we find out negative aspects about these great human beings and run the risk of not having icons to look up to.

    They are easy targets for cynics who cannot offer anything better to themselves or more importantly to others.

    The old addage….”if you’ve got nothing nice to say rather say nothing”… is woth baring in mind

  • Jon

    Precisely why we MUST dig beneath the spin-doctoring and PR hype which have created these super-man myths and expose their weaknesses. Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, Lenin, Marx etc — all the men (and women) who have somehow spawned fawning and enduring personality cults should be dragged out into the sunlight for inspection.

    Let REAL history come out.

  • Lyndall Beddy


    Personality Cults? What about the modern ones….Mugabe, Mbeki, Zuma?

  • Oldfox


    Spot on!
    Maybe if we knew more about the bad side of some of the present and past supermen and superwomen, we’d be less likely to create new ones.

  • Oldfox


    You are taking the old adage totally out of context.

    If we follow your line of reasoning, historians and demographers and statisticians should not be trying to get more accurate estimates for the number of people who starved to death during China’s “Great Leap Forward”. There are still many old Chinese alive who honestly believe that Mao only did good, and that he was totally unaware of the mass starvation and death during that dark era. Should historians not try to dig up facts that Chinese officials knew that millions of people were starving to death when they were authorizing and carrying out the export of millions of tons of Chinese grain?

  • Lyndall Beddy


    True enough – but did Mao know? There are allegations that his wife and her corrupt clique ran the show and kept him in the dark.

  • Oldfox


    Mao’s second wife, Jiang Qing, only rose to prominence and power at the beginning of the “Cultural Revolution” in 1966. I’ve never seen any accounts linking her to the failed policies of the 1950s.

  • Lyndall Beddy


    I only read one book – and it covered the end period of Mao’s rule. It does seem that the elite went out of their way to conceal the truth from Mao.

  • Prometheus Unbound

    I belive what Sentletse Diakanyo is saying is quite relevant to the kind of marginalisation black people are experiencing all around the world. It seems for centuries black people have been treated as less than human. Yes, white people were not the first to do this. If you read about the history of ancient Kemet and west Africa you will find that Black Africans had civilisation while white people were busy running around naked. Your most revered philosophers and fathers of western culture learned and studied in Africa. Africans were studying the stars and mathematics long before western society. These kinds of truths have been obliterated from history through the invasions by the Arabs. There are sources pointing to the racial identity of early egyptians as being Nubian in other words black. Now, over the past 400 years my people have been portrayed as savages who have never contributed anything to world culture. this is a perception that persists till today. People like Sentletse Diakanyo are doing a good job of painting a picture of how black people are seen in the world. I do not believe that every Indian,Caucasion or Chinese person is racist, but I do believe there is a common feeling of superiority amongst these groups with regards to us Africans. this is a perception that only we can change. People like you Sentletse Diakanyo should use your intellect and eloquent writing to teach Afrcans to learn more about their History. I believe it is possible. we do not carry on with taking BS from people who do not have the best interests of Africa and Africans at heart. only AFricans can libirate themselve. Uhuru brother keep on the spirit

  • bhajan

    Dear Prometheus

    To Start with we should educate our fellow blacks about Gandhi.It seems Gandhi is the modern trinket and toy that is being sold to blacks to cultivate their influence in such places as the UNO.An interesting website is

  • Saint

    gandhi’s non-violence is a fake, his so called peace, love and non-violence is totally plagiarized from Buddha’s teachings and infact gandhi transformed a most practical, useful and humane process of peaceful act of negotiating into a Weapon. gandhi’s non-violence is a perpetrated and manipulated act of terrorizing the minds of opponents. Do you call that non-violence?.

  • Mrinal Das

    i do not subscribe to this propagandist movement against Gandhi. the last sentences that the author quotes from the letter to Hitler, i urge all readers of the article as well as the author himself to read the entire letter and then try and understand Gandhi’s philosophy and idealism. You can not copy paste a section of a long narrative and subject it to condemnation. Gandhi recognized only the good in a human being to be his/her sole identity and neglected all that’s bad in an individual even if it means to recognize an oasis of goodness in a Sahara of badness.
    There are certain things which we tend to say in certain circumstances. We have to analyze and understand the circumstances instead of breaking into a hatred pervading rhetoric. .

  • Ian Webber

    Obviously Ghandi the hero and symbol is not celebrated for his most serious shortfalls. One long known has been his treatment of his wife. This racism is another, which many of us scarcely knew much about. Obviously he is celebrated as representative of a courageous “non-white” struggle against colonialism, as a mobilizer of mass protest and for advocating non-violence. The statements quoted by Sentletse are chilling enough to undermine this heroic role (References would be useful for verification). As others have mentioned, Ghandi’s involvement in SA was decades before Indian independence; is there any indication that his views changed as the African independence movement grew to greater prominence?

  • Dr. Nancy Malik

    “Homeopathy is the latest and refined method of treating patients economically and nonviolently” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

  • Arman

    Gandhi was only a product of the thinking at the time. He was a visionary in terms of non violence. At that time ethnicity was a fair means of segregation. Today nationality is. Does that mean either is right? No, but we cannot blame him for that thinking since it was the thought at the time. The whites enforced unfair segregation. Gandhi wanted to make the segregation more fair.

  • Neo

    I think many of of the people who commented have veered off topic a little bit.

    My understanding of the passage is that we should take a closer look at the people we idolize & celebrate as heroes, I see it in no way as an attack on Gandhi or an attempt to incite racial tension in any way.

    I think it is merely a reminder for us to take a closer look at these icons that we teach our children about, the great men & women who we tell them to aspire to be like… History should be about telling an entire story, not only the parts that are convenient!

  • Mo

    “Apartheid was not Nazism… Any comparisons between the two are invalid.”

    Apartheid and Nazism were absolutely not the same, apartheid was much worse. At least the victims of Nazism are given the recognition they deserve and Nazism is recognised and punishable as a crime against humanity. In South Africa, apartheid if often celebrated and of late even in the media with comments like, “South Africa was better under the ‘previous government’ or “This country is worse now than what it was before’. Only people who never understood or felt the scourge of this heinous act will make such degrading and horrid statements.

  • TCR

    This article is definitely enlightening regarding Gandhi, however the fact that Indians as a group are steeped in racism and classism has been a well known fact for some time, at least from my perspective. I have personally on several occasions been the victim of their racism and have come to have very little if any trust in even the possibility that they could ever view me as an equal. India itself is a cesspool of vehement hatred reflected in it’s sexism, classism and color prejudice. I like many was at one time fooled by the legacy of Gandhi, assuming that there must exist some degree of solidarity between one oppressed people and another; I even dreamed of visiting India someday. The prospect of visiting India now would be a nightmare; one filled with not only thoughts of danger to myself but also having to endure experiencing some of the most profound levels of poverty one can see in the world along with having to witness every day, rarely equaled demonstrations of cruelty toward one’s fellow countrymen.

  • Mani

    Well, I am surprised that I am am lenient. Gandhi could have been evolving during those times. No I should not be lenient. He was a casteist and he did not relent on this. So he was fundamentally incapable of understanding racial suffering and was insensitive. He also was a male chauvinist and treated women for granted. What rights did he have to lie down next to women just to test himself. He discarded his wife’s womanhood as if she was a dummy. No Gandhi was not a Mahatma. And there were many Mahatmas he is not one of them.

  • Mngunaiza

    It boggles my mind how Mahatma came to be honoured in South Africa especially, to a point where his statue is erected and the square named after him.

  • Rhondayes

    I believe Mahatma didn’t show this side of himself. His truth was hidden to give the overall appearance of inclusiveness and humanity. He turned out to believe that white people viewed him as an equal or possible equal, when they’ve always been viewed as “black” and called “n”. Having read books in the past where this was so, is probably where I got the belief that we were all in the same fight, boat, and footing. Shame. This is one “leader” I would have enjoyed never learning this about. I always held him in the same esteem and honor as MLK.