June 13th cometh and Walter Rodney’s name will parade the national spotlight in the usual finger-pointing, divisive, deification, reinvention and sanitization of his political life, and absent any serious action to make real the 2005 legislative vote to establish an Independent International Commission of Enquiry (IICE). This yearly parade will be dutifully facilitated by the media, no question asked or accountability demanded, including the WPA’s role regarding Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham being a potential recipient of the OR Tambo Award; equally as the politicking that the WPA has betrayed Rodney with their convenient alliance with the ‘dreaded’ PNC in the APNU; and the WPA will bask in the attention and another escape at being held to account. The charade will continue with some continuing the exploitation of the divide and conquer strategy, vilification of the person/group (Burnham/PNC) they love to hate, the continued distortion of our history, and the social/political/academic/ sympathetic relevance secured from acting the part.
Conscious what is about to be said would be blasphemous to Rodney’s folks and those who benefit from the mangled use of his name and politics, the time has come where people must be prepared to dispassionately examine Rodney from a holistic angle, including truthfully exposing his politics, political activities, how he died, and whom (including him) may be responsible. And building on Dennis Wiggins’ approach to Burnham that “The actions of heads of state should be viewed in their totality not in isolation” (SN, May 10, 2013), similar treatment must be meted out to Rodney’s actions as a political leader/potential head of state.
Understandably, Bro. Eusi Kwayana thinks Rodney had a right to life (SN, June 3, 2013), but this right to life cannot be looked at in isolation of Rodney’s belief in armed revolution, and the advice that “What you have to do is win over a section of the army, and you have arms. And you could also take away arms from the government [,]” followed by the admittance that “We were accumulating weapons… we were accumulating equipment of various kinds. A certain amount of that was coming from the, from the military” (respectively, world renowned CLR James, Jan. 30, 1981; and WPA co-leader Rupert Roopnarine, SN, September 19, 2010). Evidently the approach to taking power through the barrel of a gun would have denied the right to life to others, an action Rodney was willing to pursue. Or should it be believed that the right to life is guaranteed only to Rodney and those who partnered with him in said acts and not to others who would be so affected by said actions.
The WPA has to be careful that in their felt need to sanitize Rodney’s politics, albeit such happened in an era given to such actions, they do not make Rodney out as a hypocrite, self- serving and supreme. It is also unfortunate that public reference of this aspect of Rodney’s politics not only saw a disclaimer from widow Patricia Rodney and family (SN, September 10, 2010) but Kwayana sees this as “delighted many who have begun to cross-examine others.” Aren’t people allowed free-thinking on Rodney and why should such be reduced to being “delighted” and not the same thing Kwayana professes, i.e., “Challenges will be welcome as we must clear the air without polluting it [?]” (SN, June 3, 2013). Herein is another example of the WPA’s duplicity and arrogance.
In Kwayana’s “South African gov’t should have consulted Rodney family before deciding to confer Tambo Award” (SN, May 27, 2013) this designation to supremacy in the global political pantheon is given wherein it is argued Rodney’s family should have been consulted on matter relating to Burnham, even as the South African gov’t may never have done so in bequeathing the award to others whom may also be accused, implicated or complicit in the deaths of others! And this pronouncement is made even as Rodney’s family remains silent to the insurmountable wrongs and daily mismanagement that passes for governance in the country he is said to love. Given this application isn’t it reasonable to conclude the absent of consultation with the Rodney family, along with their noted silence and historical projection of Rodney as Guyana’s ideal leader, tantamount to his satisfaction over the country’s state of affairs? Can the society ever expect the Rodney family and beneficiaries of Rodney’s cultivated image to rise above infantile and selective politics and grief and honestly give to jack his jacket?
And the arguments presented by me (SN, May 7, 2013) that the evidence to date does not point to Burnham’s culpability in Rodney’s death attracted a non-intellectual response from Freddie Kissoon (KN, May 9, 2013) who has not yet learnt the art to disagree without being disagreeable and is prone to be inconsistent in his arguments. My observation was twisted by him to communicate that I “declared that there is evidence that President Forbes Burnham was not involved in the plot to murder Rodney.”And in spite of his visceral rants and protestations of who is a fool or cow, he failed to provide any shred of evidence to prove my observation incorrect besides expecting belief because the oft repeated position of Burnham’s ‘guilt’ has been made by tom, dick and harry and this makes it so! One would expect that while the average person can escape providing evidence in making claim, this concept would find its rightful place and guardianship by those who were/are part of the academic community or believe in the course of justice.
Similarly, Tacuma Ogunseye (SN, May 7, 2013) challenges PNC leader David Granger’s reliance on army personnel Gregory Smith’s account of what took place on June 13, 1980 via his book ‘Assassination Cry of a Failed Revolution: The Truth About Dr. Walter Rodney’ but expects that his pronouncement of Burnham’s guilt be accepted as the truth because he says so. Jumping into the fray is M. Maxwell. Attempting to take swipes at me but tripped over self by first claiming, “Ultimately and unequivocally, a powerful national figure like Walter Rodney could not be killed in a closely controlled police state like the Burnham-dominated Guyana in 1980 without Burnham’s prior knowledge, or more to the point, involvement and endorsement. That is a fact” (KN, May 25, 2013). And ‘that is a fact’ only because Maxwell says so, the evidence was not provided to support it! Then Maxwell made another sloppy claim in KN, June 1, 2013 that Burnham was an “accessory to the fact.” In both letters no attention was paid to the WPA’s admitted infiltration into the military even as rejection is made of Smith’s recount which Maxwell deemed as “salaciously fraudulent…infantile attempts at deceit in that book literally leaps off the page” to turn around and use the same book and agreed with Smith that he was “flown to Kwakwani” after the incident! (KN, June 1, 2013).
Neither Kissoon, Maxwell or Ogunseye, in as much as they pronounced Burnham’s culpability, has called for the establishment of the IICE to officially nail him, even as Granger called for the enquiry, knowing fully well the PNC’s Founder Leader stands accused. And this brings us to a critical point, where the WPA/Rodneyites/Rodney’s family has/have over the years been changing their story and playing ‘hold me-loose me’ on Rodney’s death. Having initially accused Burnham of culpability and outright condemned the work of the United Kingdom’s forensic experts brought by Burnham and the Court’s inquest held under Desmond Hoyte, they have ignored or refused to act on the 2005 IICE supported by the PNC under Robert Corbin’s leadership.
The initial excuse for not establishing the IICE was the timing would have interfered with the 2006 General Elections. This was followed by verbal trading matches among the Rodney family, WPA and PPP (SN, March 30, April 3 and 5, 2008) as to whom to blame for not proceeding. Then in 2012 the WPA called for a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (T&RC) for disclosure on Rodney’s death claiming the “party is willing to speak about the events that preceded the assassination of co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney…with the goal of bringing the country together” (SN, June 14, 2013). In 2013 Kwayana is calling for a “civilized Commission of Inquiry” (SN June 3, 2013).
The big question is why the hesitancy and back and forth? Is there mortification of the evidence that will be brought forth, including the Forensic Report kept in the State’s protection that the PNC has been accused of with-holding; or is it felt a T&RC as against an IICE offers the needed protection/immunity for the WPA’s political actions of the 1970s and 1980s and can aid in reducing public feelings of betrayal when the truths are made public- since the WPA was not the only one doing ‘bad things’ but the PNC and PPP were also guilty. These are reasonable questions to ask and preliminary conclusions to arrive at. But suffice to say the WPA and allies must no longer be the sole/dominant determinant(s) in how the story about Rodney is written or told and the truths revealed; or allowed by themselves or with others to maintain the manufactured divisions. They have abused and squandered the trust the public placed in them, having projected themselves as the party of intellects and above reproach.