See the release below:
The WPA welcomes the government’s announcement in the National Assembly through the Attorney General of a number of measures it intends to implement in relation to Dr. Walter Rodney. We are especially heartened that the death certificate of our beloved brother would be amended to reflect the true cause of his demise–assassination. WPA has never wavered in our belief that Dr. Rodney was murdered by agents and at the direction of the government of the day because of his political activism. It is an act that will forever be a stain on the face of our independence and it will always be a grim reminder of the nasty underbelly of our native politics.
That a government of Guyana has taken this necessary step is the direct result of four decades of relentless advocacy and struggle by many colleagues, friends, and admirers of Dr. Rodney. The WPA was at the forefront of this fight, but special recognition must be given to the Rodney family which never gave up the fight for justice for a husband, brother, father, and relative. This is indeed a moment of overcoming for Guyana, the Caribbean, and the wider world. It is also a moment of justice for other martyrs of that revolutionary moment such as Ohene Koama, Edward Dublin and Father Bernard Darke.
Despite its deep differences with the PPP and its disdain for that party’s opportunism on the Walter Rodney issue over the years, WPA commends the party for taking the announced initiative. Notwithstanding the fact that the PPP takes this initiative at a time when that party is engaged in the worst assault on national jointness in Guyana’s post-independence history, they must be recognized for doing the right and honorable thing. Sometimes in politics, we must be able to extricate elements of progressive outcomes from webs of conspiracies. In this instance, WPA separates Rodney and the announced initiatives from the real and perceived sinister political intent of the authors.
Consistent with this stance, WPA wishes to place on record its utter disgust with the way in which the PPP has used the memory of Walter Rodney to encourage the further divide of Guyana politically and ethno-racially. The PPP never misses an opportunity to mislocate this Guyanese patriot outside of his African Guyanese heritage and place him and his life’s work in collision and conflict with the interests of that segment of our nation. It is a crime that is only slightly less grievous than his assassination.
Walter Rodney was a prophet of multiracialism, but he was forever proud of his African ancestry and had nothing but contempt for Black self-haters. Guyanese should also be reminded that despite its recent outpourings, the PPP has always accepted the PNC’s version of Rodney’s death and the activities of the WPA at that time. That party’s characterization of Rodney and the WPA as “adventurists” who delivered Rodney’s head on a “platter” gave credence to the PNC’s narrative that Rodney’s murder by the State was justified.
Similarly, WPA cannot help but condemn in the strongest terms the PNC’s leadership, past and present. The former presided over Rodney’s murder while the latter when given the opportunity to redeem itself chose to assassinate our brother a second time. That party’s abrupt termination of the Rodney Commission of Inquiry upon taking office, its blunt refusal to implement reasonable recommendations of the Commission and to formally release its report reflected a political viciousness that has no parallel in recent Caribbean political history. What is even more cynical is that they did so as a government in which Rodney’s party was a junior member. It was one of the worst betrayals of political trust that exposed the WPA to unjustified but, in the circumstances, understandable ridicule and condemnation from those opposed to national reconciliation.
It was also an act for which the top leadership of the PNC will be forever condemned. The WPA showed good faith in the interest of national healing by joining a partnership with a party whose previous leadership had assassinated our leader but was rewarded with gross disrespect by a narrowminded leadership which could not recognize that healing a nation is always sacrosanct and necessary and must be paramount to partisan considerations. History will forever harshly judge that leadership for its lack of foresight and vision when it was most needed. But it is not too late for the current transitional leadership of the PNC to find a way to extricate the party from those sordid chapters.
WPA now awaits the implementation of the initiatives by the government. We are particularly interested in the intention to have Walter Rodney’s books become part of the national education curriculum. Rodney has earned this exalted place by virtue of the superlative quality of his scholarship and its inherent commitment to national wholeness. Hence, we must caution the government against using Rodney as the cover to insert into the educational curriculum PPP’s partisan version of the country’s historical journey and reality.
Finally, WPA must remind that though the announcements emanate from the PPP, they are done in the name of every single Guyanese regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation. The resources that will be used to implement the decisions are the products of the labour of all Guyanese, including the political descendant of the assassins. In the end, Walter Rodney belongs to no single political party, ethnicity, or race—by his activism and example, he is the embodiment of the quintessential Guyanese.