June 13th marks 48 years of Dr. Walter Rodney’s death. There will be conversations of the goodness of this man, what he fought for and wanted for Guyana and Guyanese, presented more to refashion an image that is contrary to his actual praxis.
Dr. David Hinds, one of the leading promoters of this re-making, has been doing exactly that over the last two Sundays in his Kaieteur News’ column.
Though Dr. Rodney proudly proclaimed his Marxist belief, an ideology that also advocates forceful overthrow of government, some Rodneyites would want it to believed he did not support such thinking and action.
In his last Sunday column Dr. Hinds made use of the term “political violence” to address Dr. Rodney’s praxis but did not delve into the subject. In the meantime society has the benefit of Dr. Rodney’s praxis on this subject from one of his closest confidants and only co-leader, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
Dr. Roopnaraine publicly admitted the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was accumulating arms and ammunition, of which a source was the Guyana Defence Force, and the party is also responsible for burning down the Ministry of Mobilisation and National Development during the People’s National Congress (PNC) government.
If there was no belief in violence, why was such action practiced during and under Dr. Rodney’s direct leadership? Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through non-violent measures created political tsunamis that resulted in the transformation of their societies, though regrettably their lives were snuffed out through violence.
These men were fighting systems that were of the most oppressive- colonialism and denial of civil rights. In Guyana it was political rivalry for the control of government, aided by propaganda (fake news) to justify forceful removal from and entry into office.
It is said Dr. Rodney “rejected the superficial unity embraced by the PPP and the PNC such as ethnic tokenism and multi-ethnic rhetoric” (Hinds, KN: 10 June 2018) yet this remains the identity of the WPA. Dr. Roopnaraine retains the record of being the only East Indian in the party’s co-leadership structure. The African record is held by Bro. Eusi Kawayana and Drs. Clive Thomas and Rodney.
The WPA remains the only party, presenting itself as a major force, that never held an election to elect its leadership, who have all been anointed/appointed. This gives rise to doubt that the party truly believes in electoral democracy and can make genuine claim it fought for it at a national scale.
The oft repeated Dr. Rodney’s interest in “multi-ethnicity” is only tied to East Indians and Africans–their presence and role in the body politics and leadership. Consequently, it is reasonable to ask if the role of other races mattered or conclude they never matter to him.
Marxism also believes in a closed society which would have implication for private media ownership. How does this juxtapose with our present state, started by President Desmond Hoyte, living in an open society and private sector having a role in media? What would have been Dr. Rodney’s position given his hardcore ideological persuasion and which by the West’s standard he was deemed among the most extreme of the politicians of his time with Mr. Forbes Burnham seen as the least?
Society is still to be told by the WPA of Dr. Rodney’s PPP upbringing/association and where his parents and siblings remained. How has this shaped his life and what was/were his reasons for leaving, if he ever did leave?
Dr. Hinds argued (KN, 3 June 2018) that Dr. Rodney represents the best of us. What does this mean? Does this take into consideration his academic brilliance and pursuits which are goals every parent/family holds?
Dr. Rodney was fortunate to win a scholarship to higher educational pursuits, though it must not be ignored he was of the time when education was not universal and girls and the poor were left behind. Does the best refer to the political?
On this Dr. Rodney can claim “groundings” with the dispossessed in Jamaica and the Jamaican Government deeming him a threat to the society, resulting in him being persona non grata. Tanzania also found this “groundings” undesirable.
Locally Dr. Rodney wanted to form a ‘national front government’ that excluded the PNC which meant the party’s supporters, members and leaders. How national is this or representing the best of us?
The saintly remaking of Dr. Rodney’s image has to explain the above, though it is more inclined to believed given his academic acclaim there would be integrity having the evidence validate the ‘saint theory’ instead of making up stories to support it.
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