Walter Rodney, the renowned Guyanese freedom fighter, was born on March 23, 1942. His hunger for knowledge led him to study the history of the slave trade particularly slavery in the Upper Guinea Coast.
His academic pursuit led him around the world which saw his learned brain lashed at the indifference of the middle class to slavery. Rodney was an ardent critic of capitalism, believing that pursuit of individual interest against the collective whole was evil to society’s progress.
The great have always been found to defy popular nonsense, and Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer could not tolerate Rodney’s fire brand in support of the poor. He was barred from coming back to Jamaica on his journey to a Black Writers’ Conference in Montreal, Canada, in October 1968. Unfortunate for the government, its coward stance rather provoked a burning light of political awareness across the Caribbean and North America.
His political spear was projected in the Black struggle especially in the academics; Rodney knew knowledge was power. He believed academic knowledge was only useful when put to the liberation of the suffering masses, I hope today’s ‘Book-longs’ will learn of him.
In 1974, Rodney returned to Guyana to serve at the University of Guyana only for the government to block the appointment. Whenever I ponder Rodney’s plights I cannot but conclude that as a rod he lashed mercilessly the hardened and cruel back of slavery. But ride on soldier of the truth and so he did, forming the Working People’s Alliance.
As fate will have it, one evening in June 13th, 1980 Walter the ‘Rod’ was bombed in his car whiles running for office in the elections.
Well they assassinated the people’s voice but they could not kill the political consciousness he planted in his people. May be they thought having killed him; they had made an end to the man, forgetting that a man’s ideals outlive him in coming generations.
Two of his timeless wisdom are, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, and ‘The Groundings with my Brothers’, get them and arm your mind, they are priceless.
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