A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi has been removed from Ghana’s most prestigious university following complaints that he was racist against Africans.

The statue, installed at the University of Ghana in capital Accra, was removed in the middle of the night earlier this week after protests from students and faculty.

India’s former president Pranab Mukherjee had unveiled the statue two years ago as a symbol of ties between the two nations, but professors at the university soon began a petition calling for its removal.

They cited passages written by Gandhi depicting Indians as “infinitely superior” to black Africans and using the racist pejorative “kaffirs” to describe them.

One of Gandhi’s writings cited in the petition read, One of Gandhi’s writings cited in the petition read,

“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.”

The online protest was one of a number on university campuses in Africa and beyond about the enduring symbols of the continent’s colonial past.

The Gandhi statue on the university’s Legon campus in Accra appeared to have been removed overnight on Tuesday, students and lecturers told AFP news agency.

The head of language, literature, and drama at the Institute of African Studies, Obadele Kambon, said the removal was an issue of “self-respect”.

“If we show that we have no respect for ourselves and look down on our own heroes and praise others who had no respect for us, then there is an issue,” he said.

“If we indeed don’t show any self-respect for our heroes, how can the world respect us? This is a victory for black dignity and self-respect. The campaign has paid off.”