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June 11 ,2021

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Dr Walter Rodney

Dr Walter Rodney

-grave site to be declared national monument, children’s books for syllabus

On the eve of the 41st anniversary of his death in a bomb blast, the PPP/C government yesterday announced a series of actions to honour the life and legacy of  then WPA Leader Dr Walter Rodney and to set the record straight about his slaying.

Rodney’s  assassination on June 13th  1980 at the age of 38 has seen decades of attempts by his family to have the facts surrounding his demise be ascertained but these efforts were thwarted under the PNC which had been accused of orchestrating his killing and there were also periods under PPP/C governments when no actions were taken.

Yesterday, Attorney General Anil Nandlall SC announced a raft of measures in the National Assembly which he said were approved after Rodney’s family approach-ed President Irfaan Ali for assistance to honour the late historian and to set the record straight on his death.  Nandlall identified the family members as Rodney’s wife Dr. Patricia Rodney and children, Shaka Rodney, Kanini Rodney-Phillips MD and Asha T. Rodney.

Making his presentation under the provision `State-ment by a minister’, Nandlall said “Today, the privilege is mine to announce that His Excellency, the President and the Government of Guyana have acceded to this request as part of the historic step of bringing a level of closure to the Rodney family with respect to the death of Dr. Walter Rodney. This is a momentous occasion, for many reasons and it is also a personal privilege for me and indeed, all of us, to be part of a process to right this tragic wrong and to begin the process of the rectification of the historical record”.

He noted that on the 8th of February, 2014, a Com-mission of Inquiry was appointed by then PPP/C President Donald Ramotar, to inquire into and report on, the circumstances surrounding the death of Rodney. The Report of that Commission of Inquiry was tabled in the House under the APNU+AFC Government in 2016. A Motion was tabled in the House shortly thereafter, by PPP/C MP  Gail Teixeira calling upon the Government to implement the recommendations of that Report. That Motion was voted down by the then APNU+AFC Government of which the PNCR is the largest component.

“This Government hereby commits to move another Motion in this house shortly, seeking the approval of that Report by this House and a resolution that the recommendations contained therein be approved”, Nandlall said.

He pointed out that an inquest was conducted eight years after  Rodney’s death and the findings were that the historian died by “misadventure”.

“This inquest was reviewed by the 2014 Commission of Inquiry and found to be incredible, flawed and dubious. Steps will be taken to invalidate or set aside the perverse findings of that inquest”, Nandlall announced.

He added that although Rodney was known and respected throughout the world for his academic accomplishments, scholarship and activism, his death certificate described him as “unemployed’’, as he had been  denied a job at his country’s only University despite having been employed at universities across the globe.

“This historical wrong will be corrected and that death certificate will be corrected to read ‘’Professor’’ instead of “unemployed”, Nandlall declared.

The Attorney General said that efforts have already begun and will continue to secure the record of the 2014 Commission of Inquiry. Those records will be digitized by the  National Archives, recently renamed the Walter Rodney National Archives, in collaboration with the Walter Rodney Foundation and the Atlanta University Center – Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta, Georgia, and copies of same will be deposited at that institution as part of the Walter Rodney Papers and Special Collection.

Nandlall noted that the Rodney Gravesite & Memorial are currently being managed collaboratively between the Rodney Family and the National Trust.

“Today, I am proud to announce that they will be declared National Monuments and fall under the administration of The National Trust”,  the Attorney General told the House.

He added that one of the greatest tragedies flowing from Rodney’s death, is the loss of his scholarship to the people of Guyana.

“His children’s books that celebrate the cultural heritage of Guyanese, Kofi Baadu: Out of Africa and Lakshmi: Out of India, shall be placed on the national syllabus by the Ministry of Education and in the hands of primary and secondary school students across this land. Additionally, his other major works, including, A History of the Guyanese Working People, Guyanese Sugar Plantations in the late Nineteenth Century, and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, shall be made available to the library of the University of Guyana”, the Attorney General sad.

Further, the Walter Rodney Chair at the University of Guyana will be reestablished.

Nandlall  noted that Rodney’s brother Donald Rodney was in the car with  him on the evening that the bomb blast occurred and is also a victim of this tragedy.

“This included a perverse conviction by a Magistrate’s Court, the burden of which Donald Rodney carried for the past forty-one (41) years. Fortuitously, only recently, the Court of Appeal of Guyana set aside his conviction.

“Every effort will be made to remove and expunge all public records that intimate any level of guilt or wrongdoing by Dr. Walter Rodney in relation to the June 13th 1980 tragedy”, the Attorney General declared.

He added: “For too long, Dr. Walter Rodney’s death has been the subject of an irreverent misdescription. It was not a misadventure. It was an assassination. A great stain on our Republic. This sadistic misrepresentation on Dr. Rodney’s death certificate, prevented his family from recovering … from his life insurance policy, the only financial provision he had made for his family, his wife and three infant children. This desecration must end now. His death certificate will be amended to delete the words ’misadventure’ as the cause of death and substitute therefor, the word `assassination’”.

The Attorney General then cited key passages of  the findings of the 2014 Commission of Inquiry.

“We have no hesitation in holding that Gregory Smith was responsible for Dr. Walter Rodney’s death on 13 June, 1980, and that in so doing, he was acting as an agent of the State having been aided and abetted so to do, by individuals holding positions of leadership in State agencies and committed to carrying out the wishes of the PNC Administration”, the report had said.

Nandlall added that one of the key findings of the inquiry was stark. It stated that  “Dr.  Walter Rodney was a man of large and significant stature both in Guyana and beyond, at the time of his death.  He could only have been killed in what we find to be a State organized assassination with the knowledge of Prime Minister Burnham in the Guyana of that period.”

As Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, and on behalf of the President and  the Government of Guyana, Nandlall expressed sorrow to Rodney’s family. He said that he has personally spoken with them to convey the Government’s position on this matter.

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MP, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

Former WPA executive questions motive behind govt’s intended motion to adopt Rodney Report

June 11 ,2021

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A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley has questioned the motive behind the Government’s intended motion to adopt the Dr. Walter Rodney COI Report and set the record straight on the circumstances surrounding Dr. Walter Rodney’s death.

“I would like to commend the Hon. Minister of Legal Affairs [Anil Nandlall] for his glowing reviews of Dr. Walter Rodney. But the question must be asked why now? PPP’s revisionism does not and cannot erase history. If my understanding of history is accurate it is this same PPP that was preparing to form a left alliance with LFS Burnham in 1985. It is indeed a pity that he who is in such a good place to practice the Rodneyite principles is a central figure in the abuse of African Guyanese,” MP Sarabo-Halley said in a statement.

MP Sarabo-Halley issued the statement hours after the Attorney General informed the National Assembly that in addition to the adoption of the report, the Death Certificate of Dr Rodney would be amended to change his cause of death from “misadventure” to “assassination,” and job description from “unemployed” to “professor.

Leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Dr. Rodney was assassinated on June 13, 1980 when a bomb exploded his car. He was 38.

MP Sarabo-Halley, who not so long ago served as the Chairman of WPA, said had Dr. Rodney been alive, he would have been appalled at the treatment of Afro-Guyanese by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration.

“As everyone who was part of the WPA of Dr. Rodney could attest to, the PPP has, to the disgust of his comrades, paraded Dr. Rodney’s name to the abuse of African Guyanese. I am confident that were Dr. Rodney alive today he would be speaking about your excesses and atrocitties. Crum-Ewing’s name comes to mind..,” she said.

She said that the recent reparations by the PPP do not alter the torturous avoidance of Dr. Rodney’s killing in a timely manner 1992 – 2021. “So again, thank you for your high praise and response to Patricia Rodney’s request for the record to be altered.

Indeed, his books belong in schools, this should have been done long ago, as Guyanese children will be better for it. Might I add that his book the History of the Guyanese Working People should be compulsory reading for all parliamentarians as one would hope that all this signals a new respect and understanding of the role African Guyanese have played in the building of this beautiful country,” Sarabo-Halley said.

“Every effort will be made to remove all public records that intimate any wrongdoing by Dr. Walter Rodney” – Govt

STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MOHABIR ANIL NANDLALL SC MP, ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER OF LEGAL AFFAIRS, DELIVERED TO THE 28TH SITTING OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE 12TH PARLIAMENT OF GUYANA, HELD ON 10TH OF JUNE, 2021

13th of June, 2021, will mark the 41st death anniversary of Dr. Walter Rodney. His wife Dr. Patricia Rodney and children, Shaka Rodney, Kanini Rodney-Phillips MD and Asha T. Rodney Esq. have requested the assistance of His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and the Government of Guyana to formally honor the life, legacy and contribution of Dr. Rodney to Guyana and to finally set the public record straight in relation to certain matters surrounding his tragic death.

Today, the privilege is mine to announce that His Excellency, the President and the Government of Guyana have acceded to this request as part of the historic step of bringing a level of closure to the Rodney family with respect to the death of Dr. Walter Rodney. This is a momentous occasion, for many reasons and it is also a personal privilege for me and indeed, all of us, to be part of a process to right this tragic wrong and to begin the process of the rectification of the historical record.

Walter Anthony Rodney, was only 38 years old, and a leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), when he was killed in a bomb blast on June 13, 1980.  As per the Forbes Burnham PNC government, Rodney intended to blow up the Georgetown Prisons but the bomb was accidentally detonated. The Rodney family, and Donald Rodney, Walter Rodney’s brother, who was in the car at the time with Walter when the bomb exploded, have vehemently and consistently opposed this narrative for 41, long years.

The news of Dr. Rodney’s tragic death sent shock tremors to the conscience of Guyanese, West Indians, Americans, Europeans, Africans and indeed people, the world over. To say that Dr. Rodney’s death and ensuing events in relation thereto, were a horrendous miscarriage of justice, would be an appalling understatement. The self-evident truth is that when wrongs of such magnitude occur, they can never really be righted. The least that can be done in this instance is to attempt to grant the wishes of the loved ones of Dr. Rodney and to work with them in bringing these wishes to fruition, as they attempt to forge their own closure in relation to this horrific tragedy.

On the 8th day of February, 2014, a Commission of Inquiry was appointed by President Donald Ramotar, to inquire into and report on, the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Rodney. The Report of that Commission of Inquiry was tabled in this House under the APNU/AFC Government in 2016. A Motion was tabled in this House shortly thereafter, by the Honorable Gail Teixeira, then Opposition Member of Parliament of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, calling upon the Government to implement the recommendations of that Report. That Motion was voted down by the then Government.

This Government hereby commits to move another Motion in this house shortly, seeking the approval of that Report by this House and a resolution that the recommendations contained therein be approved.

An Inquest was conducted 8 years after Dr. Rodney’s death and the Findings were that Dr. Rodney died by “misadventure”. This inquest was reviewed by the 2014 Commission of Inquiry and found to be incredible, flawed and dubious. Steps will be taken to invalidate or set aside the perverse findings of that inquest.

Although this son of Guyana was known and respected throughout the world for his academic accomplishments, scholarship and activism, his death certificate described him as “unemployed’’, as he was denied a job at his country’s only University after working at Universities across the globe. This historical wrong will be corrected and that death certificate will be corrected to read ‘’Professor’’ instead of “unemployed.’’

We have already begun and will continue our efforts to secure the record of the 2014 Commission of Inquiry. Those records will be digitized by our National Archives, recently renamed the Walter Rodney National Archives, in collaboration with the Walter Rodney Foundation and the Atlanta University Center – Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta, Georgia, and copies of the same will be housed at that institution as part of the Walter Rodney Papers and Special Collection.

The Rodney Gravesite & Memorial are currently being managed collaboratively between the Rodney Family and the National Trust.  Today, I am proud to announce that they will be declared National Monuments and fall under the administration of The National Trust.

One of the greatest tragedies flowing from Dr. Rodney’s death, is the loss of his scholarship to the people of Guyana. His children’s books that celebrate the cultural heritage of Guyanese, Kofi Baadu: Out of Africa and Lakshmi: Out of India, shall be placed on the national syllabus by the Ministry of Education and in the hands of primary and secondary school students across this land. Additionally, his other major works, including, A History of the Guyanese Working People, Guyanese Sugar Plantations in the late Nineteenth Century, and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, shall be made available to the library of the University of Guyana.

The Walter Rodney Chair at the University of Guyana will be reestablished.

It is common knowledge that Donald Rodney was in the car with Dr. Walter Rodney on that fateful evening, and is also a victim of this tragedy. This included a perverse conviction by a Magistrate Court, the burden of which Donald Rodney carried for the past forty-one (41) years. Fortuitously, only recently, the Court of Appeal of Guyana set aside his conviction.

Every effort will be made to remove and expunge all public records that intimate any level of guilt or wrongdoing by Dr. Walter Rodney in relation to the June 13th 1980 tragedy.

For too long, Dr. Walter Rodney’s death has been the subject of an irreverent misdescription. It was not a misadventure. It was an assassination. A great stain on our Republic. This sadistic misrepresentation on Dr. Rodney’s death certificate, prevented his family from recovering not a blind cent from his life insurance policy, the only financial provision he had made for his family, his wife and three infant children. This desecration must end now. His death certificate will be amended to delete the words ‘’misadventure’’ as the cause of death and substitute therefor, the word ‘’assassination’’.

In this regard, it is apposite that I refer to the findings of the Commissioners in their Report in the 2014 Commission of Inquiry. They stated:

“We have no hesitation in holding that Gregory Smith was responsible for Dr. Walter Rodney’s death on 13 June, 1980, and that in so doing, he was acting as an agent of the State having been aided and abetted so to do, by individuals holding positions of leadership in State agencies and committed to carrying out the wishes of the PNC Administration.”

One of the key findings was stark. “Dr.  Walter Rodney was a man of large and significant stature both in Guyana and beyond, at the time of his death.  He could only have been killed in what we find to be a State organized assassination with the knowledge of Prime Minister Burnham in the Guyana of that period.”

In all democratic societies there are fundamental laws by which the civil rights of citizens are acknowledged, recognized and protected. Our Constitution, as it did in 1980, sets out those fundamental rights, freedoms and protection. They include, the right to life and provisions to secure the protection of law. Dr. Rodney was denied these basic, inalienable but fundamental human rights.

Expectedly, Dr. Rodney’s death has had a life-long and lasting impact on the Rodney Family, Donald Rodney, and indeed, on Guyana. As such, the Government of Guyana adopt these measures as simply the right thing to do.

As Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, and on behalf of the President, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and indeed the Government of Guyana, I join with the people of Guyana in expressing sorrow to his widow Dr. Patricia Rodney, and to their three children, Shaka Rodney, Kanini Rodney-Phillips, M.D., and Asha T. Rodney, Esq., and to his brother, Donald Rodney. I have personally spoken with them to convey the Government’s position on this matter.

Irfan Ali PPP trying hard to rule over West Africans in Guyana. You cannot change how most see you as an inferior subhuman koolie greedy only worthy of death and for making girl children to impregnate.

Last edited by Prashad

Let me set the record straight. Talks of a merger of parties between the PPP under direct supervision of Dr Jagan and the PNC under the direct supervision of Burnham started in 1977 and continued until the dead of Burnham. Including when Rodney was at the height of his activities.

@Prashad posted:

Irfan Ali PPP trying hard to rule over West Africans in Guyana. You cannot change how most see you as an inferior subhuman koolie greedy only worthy of death and for making girl children to impregnate.

Is that how you see yourself, as an inferior subhuman?

Last edited by cain
@Prashad posted:

Let me set the record straight. Talks of a merger of parties between the PPP under direct supervision of Dr Jagan and the PNC under the direct supervision of Burnham started in 1977 and continued until the dead of Burnham. Including when Rodney was at the height of his activities.

National Front Government would had materialized ,it was aborted after Burnham demise in 1985. Perhaps Guyana would have been a better place ,the current kleptoctocrats would not have been in office ,including Putinisque Ratman whom are revered by some .

@Prashad posted:

Let me set the record straight. Talks of a merger of parties between the PPP under direct supervision of Dr Jagan and the PNC under the direct supervision of Burnham started in 1977 and continued until the dead of Burnham. Including when Rodney was at the height of his activities.

@Django posted:

National Front Government would had materialized ,it was aborted after Burnham demise in 1985. Perhaps Guyana would have been a better place ,the current kleptoctocrats would not have been in office ,including Putinisque Ratman whom are revered by some .

Correct Django ...

It was in the 1980's when Forbes Burnham was in power.

Had the merger took place in the early 1980's, Guyana would have had a national-front government.

WPA welcomes gov’t announcements on Walter Rodney

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) today welcomed announcements yesterday by the PPP/C government that the record on the assassination of the WPA leader and historian Dr Walter Rodney will be corrected and that a series of steps will be taken to honour his legacy.

An edited statement from the WPA follows:

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 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 in 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 honourable 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 mis-locate 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. …  Walter Rodney was a prophet of multiracialism, but he was forever proud of is 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.

Correct Django ...

It was in the 1980's when Forbes Burnham was in power.

Had the merger took place in the early 1980's, Guyana would have had a national-front government.

And that would not have been a good thing. As it would not now. One thief plus one thief doesn't make an honest man.

We would have two sets of TEEFMEN left unchecked with the nation's resources.

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