I will always remember one incident about Walter Rodney in the countless courageous situations of liberation he was involved in – the trial of Arnold Rampersaud. Rampersaud was charged for murder during one of the protests against the imposition of a toll on the newly built Corentyne highway in 1973 in which a policeman was killed.
Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham knew the opposition PPP planned the attack and decided that he will charge a PPP youth with murder (for details on the Rampersaud saga see the fantastic book on the Burnham dictatorship, “Justice: The Struggle for Democracy in Guyana, 1952-1992” by Jesuit priest and then editor of the Catholic Standard, Father Andrew Morrison).
At the trial and two re-retrials, the prosecutor, the now rich and famous, Rex Mc Kay, brought witness after witness, all of whom were African Guyanese, to bear false testimony. During the trials, Rodney at several public meetings frontally addressed African Guyanese urging them not to assault the dignity of post-slavery Guyanese African culture by lowering their dignity at the behest of Burnham to hang an innocent man all because he was East Indian. The Rodney message was piercing. In the third court drama, the all African jury acquitted Rampersaud.
What is taking place in Guyana is the assault on African civilization by African Guyanese leaders who are using their people to acquire raw, naked power. We can understand the types like David Granger, Raphael Trotman, Joe Harmon, Volda Lawrence and so many others who have no background in the liberation of mankind and never had an acquaintance with Rodney.
Look at the degeneration of David Hinds who was literally proteged by Rodney. One of the closest comrades (perhaps the closet) of Rodney was Eusi Kwayana. He wrote a book on Rodney’s heroism. Kwayana and Hinds today defend rigged elections in which African leaders like themselves are willing to sacrifice the lives of the ordinary man and woman of African heritage for the sake of their narrow, racist agenda. No other parallel is more appropriate to condemn these people than the Rampersaud/Rodney songbook of justice and liberation.
Owen Arthur refused to let African dignity be thrown out of the window. He came here to observe the 2020 election as head of the Commonwealth and what he saw Mingo did on March 4 appalled him and he denounced it. From March 4 until his death this week, he spoke out against rigged elections. For that he was vilified and derogated by his fellow Africans in Guyana because as a Black man, he rejected using Black people for depraved purposes. But most of all, he saw his role in life as a human, a democratic, a principled character not as a Black man.
This is where he became a hero. This is where Bruce Golding became a hero. This is where Mia Mottley became a hero. This is where Keith Rowley became a huge friend of Guyana. These representatives of African civilization never accepted that they must embrace fraudulent election perpetrated by a group of African politicians because it was from their kit and kin. They saw life as resting on the fulcrums of decency, ethics, philosophical values and obligation to people, lessons that the PNC, the AFC, their low-life surrogates should internalize.
Owen Arthur stood tall in a moment in Guyana that constituted one of the most crucial periods in our country’s modern evolution. He will remain one of the tallest heroes in Guyana’s history. In two previous columns, I appealed to the next PPP government to erect a bust of the following persons: Bruce Golding; Owen Arthur; American Ambassador, Sarah Ann Lynch; Canadian High Commission, Lilian Chatterjie; British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn; and EU Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó.
Now that Owen Arthur has passed away, I am making this appeal once more. Had it not been for the names cited above, on March 13, David Granger would have been sworn in, and those born in 2020, when they reach 25 in 2045, the only government they would have known is one led by a party named the People’s National Congress.
My generation went through this. When I left primary school, the Burnham and the PNC dominated Guyana. I went to UG and graduated and Burnham sent to call me. He and the PNC were still dominating Guyana. I got married and Burnham and the PNC were still dominating Guyana. I went abroad to pursue higher education and Burnham and the PNC were still in charge of Guyana. I returned to Guyana in 1984, Burnham sent to call me again. He and the PNC were still in the saddle. We must forever thank heroes like Owen Arthur for saving the present generation of Guyanese.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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