RODNEY WAS NO ROMANTICIST
Out of respect for the selfless contributions of Tacuma Ogunseye, I plan at some time to answer his questions concerning my contentions that ‘People’s Power, No Dictator’ took on a different orientation after the funeral oration just before Walter Rodney was interred.
I will also defend the viewpoint that the WPA has always been touchy about criticisms of Walter and the record will bear me out on this. But Tacuma would appreciate that these issues and the capitulation of the WPA will take more than one column.
For today, I wish to express my shock that after the hiding that Annan Boodram received following his criticisms of Rodney, he would return with some of the most outrageous claims against the WPA and Rodney.
I have read the most recent letter by Boodram and was left astonished, because I could not believe that someone of Boodram’s experience and intelligence would write such things.
In that letter he argued firstly that Rodney’s absence from Guyana had conditioned his framework for change and progress was still evolving when he returned to Guyana, and that others had to help Rodney manoeuvre the nuances of Guyanese politics.
This is totally outrageous. Boodram who lived in Guyana during the period of the Civil Rebellion ought to know better, and must have known that Rodney was no stranger and hardly needed help in understanding the political dynamics of the country.
Rodney was able to achieve in a short period of time what Jagan had been seeking for most of his political career. Rodney was able to use the harsh economic conditions of the time and the political repression of the day to build a united front against the Burnham dictatorship.
The second absurdity mentioned by Boodram was that Rodney could not claim allegiance of the vast majority of the masses across all ethnic lines. Well, no politician in Guyana and probably anywhere in the world has ever achieved such a standard, unless of course we are accepting some of the results of the rigged elections of the PNC, which in one instance showed that the PPP was defeated by the PNC in Corentyne.
I further add that no politician in the history of Guyana has galvanized the Guyanese people, across all ethnic lines as Walter Rodney. He set himself apart from the pack in this regard, and the WPA under Rodney achieved an unbelievable degree of support from Guyanese from all ethnic groups and across all class lines. His funeral drew Guyanese from all races together and was at the time the largest funeral ever in Guyana.
Boodram also said that Burnham was a shrewd judge of character and that he had labeled Rodney a romanticist. Burnham never so labeled Rodney. Burnham saw Rodney as a threat and ordered the Working People’s Alliance, which he ridiculed as the ‘Worst Possible Alternative’, to make their wills. Burnham set out to destroy the WPA.
Finally Boodram says that no one within the WPA has stated what Rodney was up to when he was assassinated. So what does Boodram think that Rodney was up to? Days after the assassination, the Working People’s Alliance issued a statement explaining the circumstances that gave rise to the assassination.
I find it extremely strange that Boodram, who was around in those days, could be making such astonishing statements which are clearly ill-informed and which can be assumed to be an attempt to paint the picture that Rodney not only invited his own death, but that he did not have a clue about what he was doing.
The PPP has recognized Walter Rodney as a hero. It awarded him the country’s highest national honour, the Order of Excellence. So what are we to assume by all of that, that the PPP and Cheddi Jagan did not know what they were doing when they elevated Rodney to this standing?