Guyanese are experts at making up excuses. Whether it is cricket, football, boxing, politics or governance, Guyanese can concoct reasons to excuse their poor performance.
A few years ago, a Guyanese boxer fought for a world title and lost. The excuse offered was that the promoters did not provide proper food for the boxer and this led to her loss. No one bothered to ask how it is that someone is going to fight for country and adequate arrangements were not made for food. They accepted the excuse because it was what they wanted to believe.
A wicked act was recently exposed. Walter Rodney’s name has been unceremoniously erased from the name of the archives. And the shameless mouthpieces of the government have come up with an excuse.
They are claiming that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPC) administration which changed the name of the archives to the Walter Rodney Archives did not gazette the name change. The gullible and those who continue to excuse the mistakes of the government have latched on to this excuse.
None of those who are contending that the original name change was not gazetted has pointed out under which law a name change is required to be gazetted. But persons are running with this excuse as a defense of the change in the signage outside of the archives.
But assuming there is a lawful provision which requires that a name change of a public entity being gazetted, why then instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars to replace the signage could the name change not be gazetted?
The National Archives was created as a department of government in 1982. In 2007, then former President Bharrat Jagdeo supported a private initiative aimed at restoring the Theater Guild. During a tour of the facility, he announced that the National Archives would be renamed after Walter Rodney. The PPPC also established a Chair for Walter Rodney at the University of Guyana.
A new building to house the archives was then being constructed on Homestretch Avenue. The new building was opened and the signage, up to recent, advertised it as the Walter Rodney Archives.
APNU has acknowledged all of these initiative aimed at memorialising Guyana’s most renowned historian. The APNU never protested the naming of the archives. The International Directory of Archives noted the change of name of the National Archives to the Walter Rodney Archives in 2008.
This latest assault on the memory of Walter Rodney has taken place while the party, which he founded is cuddling with the party which was responsible for his assassination. In fact, Rodney’s party, the Working People’s Alliance has become the staunchest defender of the APNU+AFC government, despite that same government aborted the Commission of Inquiry into his death.
The WPA has assumed the role of campaign director for the APNU+AFC’s reelection. The WPA has abandoned its original demand for shared governance involving both of the main political parties. It is now the principal cheerleader of winner-take-all politics so long as the PPPC is kept out of government. The politics of the WPA has undergone a metamorphosis.
The WPA has said that it will inquire into the name change. In so doing, it should ask whether the old sign, which bore the name of Walter Rodney and was elegantly carved in wood had deteriorated or whether the change in signage was a provocative act intended to remove any association of the archives with Walter Rodney.
“A History of the Guyanese Working People: 1881-1905” was published after Walter’s assassination. The book was completed prior to his death – a truly remarkable accomplishment given his hectic political schedule while it was being researched and written. He spent hours researching in the National Archives.
What has been done is a travesty, one which should not be excused, particularly by his party. But you can bet that the party he founded is going to find some reason to excuse what has happened. And it has done with everything which has been done to his memory under the APNU+AFC government.
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