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This past week we observed the 41st Anniversary of Walter Rodney’s assassination. As is usual these days it provided a platform for all and sundry to pontificate on his virtues, often attempting to use his legacy to validate their political narratives of division and domination. This year the PPP government strategically dropped a bombshell when it announced a series of initiatives aimed at what it and sections of the chattering class called “honouring “ Rodney. They justifiably flayed the PNC and the Coalition for failing to do what the PPP has done, thus ensuring that the Rodney name is dragged into the political conflict between our two political combatants.
But they also condemned Rodney’s colleagues in the WPA for betraying him when they entered a political partnership with the PNC—a partnership that was part of the larger Coalition government from 2015 to 2020. They claimed that Rodney’s colleagues had no business being in any government with Rodney’s assassins. Some took another angle—they claimed that when the Coalition governed, the WPA did not lift a finger to seek justice for Rodney at that level . What was quite obscene was that unsuspecting persons who are not necessarily PPP members have been repeating this false narrative.
The WPA issued two statements—one that dealt with the PPP announcements and the other a general statement on the anniversary of the assassination. As a party member, I support the content of the statements. But on June 13, I took to the airwaves on social media to give my own reflections. I made two points which I wish repeat in this column.
The first point I made was that I am tired of persons, who out of fear of the government of the day or disdain for Rodney did not join the Rodney movement when he was alive, preaching to me about betraying Rodney. From now on I intend to be in their faces. We the colleagues of Rodney in or near the WPA of that time put our lives on the line with our brother. Many of us still have the scars to show. Others such as Ohene Koama and Edward Dublin are not alive to tell the story of those experiences because they were murdered.
I am not complaining, for real revolutionaries don’t cry. But I don’t want anybody who did not have the courage to take the risks that I and others took to stand with Rodney when he faced the might of a hyper-authoritarian State to tell me about struggle and betrayal—I was there in flesh and blood. And I am insisting that that act of courage must count for something. Call it arrogance or conceit, but those so-called critics should give thanks to those of us who put our hands up and answered the call to action and duty. I am not saying that we should not be criticised for what we did or did not do then, but those who ran away from the perceived danger have no moral or political right tell us about betrayal.
This brings me to the second related point—WPA’s alliance with the PNC. The WPA has gone to great lengths to explain its rationale for such a move—one that has been followed by fellow left-wing parties in the wider CARICOM family. But I want to be blunt today. People are free to do what they want to do with Rodney’s legacy—he is not owned by anyone or any single organisation. But after today, I will be in the face of anyone or any outfit who seek to use Rodney’s name to dictate to me who my political friends should be.
I have been actively fighting political injustice for the last 47 years and I don’t intend to stop till I draw my last breath. I have with others stood up against PPP-Indo and PNC-Afro governments. I have also supported alliances with those two parties in the interest of reconciliation and peace for all Guyana—peace is not made with friends, but with adversaries. There were times when the WPA, against the wishes of some African Guyanese entered into an alliance with the PPP. At other times we entered into an alliance with the PNC against the wishes of Indian Guyanese. Why does one represent virtue and the other represent evil? I as an individual and a political activist reserve the right to choose my political friends and allies and to choose when to do so. At the end of the day, we are all Guyanese.
More of Dr. Hinds’ commentaries can be found on his website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news and on his Facebook page Hinds’Sight. Catch him on Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 pm for Politics 101 with Dr. David Hinds.