Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi's peaceful fight against British rule in India inspired many African independence leaders.Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ghana will be removing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi from its main university after complaints over "racist comments" from the Indian freedom fighter.

The Ghana Foreign Ministry made the announcement on 6 October after a group of lecturers and students campaigned for the Indian nationalist leader's statute to be removed, months after it was placed at the university. According to Reuters, the group said that Gandhi had made racist comments about Africans and that statues on campus should be of African heroes instead.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said: "The government would therefore want to relocate the statue from the University of Ghana to ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy... being a distraction [from] our strong ties of friendship."

The Gandhi statue was meant to symbolise the friendship between Ghana and India and the Foreign Ministry has urged Ghanians to "look beyond the comments attributed to... Gandhi and acknowledge his role as one of the most outstanding personalities of the last century".

However, a senior Indian diplomat has since said that the alleged racist comments were made by Gandhi very early on his life.

Gandhi became the symbol of India's freedom fight against British rule, quickly becoming an inspiration for African independence leaders. Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, who won independence from British rule in 1957, was among them.

However, despite Gandhi's peaceful philosophy fighting against the British, some historians have said that Gandhi himself did not believe in equality during the earlier years of his life. Jad Adams, author of Gandhi: The True Man Behind Modern India, said that Gandhi often referred to black people as "kaffirs" – an extremely offensive term.

Gandhi was quoted as saying 1896: "Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, whose desire is to degrade us to the level of the raw k*****. And whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy his wife with and then pas his life in indolence and nakedness."