Gandhi Statue - Ayr Town Hall
A statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi, gifted to South Ayrshire by the Indian Government's Council for Cultural Relations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth, was unveiled in Ayr Town Hall on 14th September 2019. Popularly known by the respectful title of Mahatma, Gandhi advocated non-violent methods in pursuing Indian independence from Britain. Having qualified as a lawyer in London, the young Gandhi practised law in South Africa 1893-1914. There he found himself subject to the discriminatory restrictions which applied to all non-whites, and began to campaign for civil rights. It has been pointed out that, at least during his early years in South Africa, it was the rights of Indians rather than Africans that he concerned himself with. In his speeches and writings from that time, he sometimes argued that it was unfair of whites to look upon Indians as being on the same low level as black South Africans, as they were more deserving of equal rights. This has led to accusations of racism, and has made Gandhi a controversial figure in present-day Africa. In his defence it has been argued that he was a complex human being rather than a saint; that this was a stage he went through in his evolution from being a proud son of the British Empire to being a champion of human rights for all; and that the leaders of the civil rights movement which eventually brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa regarded him as an inspirational hero.