Round Table with Oscar
June 16, 2015
Rodney 35 haunts Guyana

The middle of June 2015 marks a memorial to freedom. Sunday last was 35 years since a promising harvest of freedom and integrity for Guyana was cut down and scattered. The political power of Forbes Burnham tore Walter Rodney’s body apart and mauled the near born power of the people. From Georgetown in Malaysia, Cecil Rajendra confessed his fear in these words:{{more}}

“More than at any

other time before

your death leaves me

fearful for the future

of every righteous man

now that the neanderthals

of greed appear

to hold the whip hand.”

In the morning of June 13, 1980, a radio set – a walkie talkie – was delivered to Walter Rodney and it exploded in his lap, killing him, injuring his brother and damaging the vehicle in which they were seated. The government had arranged the death of a new politics by a series of terror tactics leading to this assassination.

Another poet, Tony Kellman, in his “Legacy of Courage,” observes tsat:

“So many… so many sell their hearts

For paper notes all fleshed in blood,

On burning stones where a pariah barks

You dared to speak for what is good.

…You are not dead

Your courage roves to haunt the beast

…The murderer still can find no peace

…. Your spirit will resist him still.”

The poet summarizes his point, at the end of his verse:

“Right now, a car explodes

Sprinkling blood all over the world,

Yet, from each drop a new flame uncurls

In death you live forever.”

This year, 2015, 35 years after Walter Rodney, Andaige, Rupert Roopnarine, Clive Thomas and their Working People’s Alliance movement felt the crush of the violent state, Guyana is sensing a new politics wanting to emerge. A new harvest of freedom is throwing up blossoms of ethnic togetherness and fragrances over the political landscape.


800 years ago in mid-June, the big citizens in England banded themselves together and made the king recognize how his rule was harsh, repressive and extortionate. Ruling class industrial action brought King John to his knees and on June 15, 1215, he signed the Runnymede Charter of Rights and Freedoms – in Latin, the “Magna Carta”. One after the other, the monarchs in England signed this declaration as the contract between monarch and big citizen. Britain is celebrating this moment when people, not only monarchs – kings and queens – won their rights and could go to court to protect them from violation.

Mid-June 2015 is a time to stand up courageously for dignity, freedom and livelihood. Black people in the USA and Canada, migrants in Europe and SE Asia, terrorized nations and peoples in Africa, indigenous peoples on every continent; take stock and stand up.

And in SVG, perhaps some lines from Charles Roach can speak to us:

“What is civilization

if people can’t be free

to develop minds and talents

to full capacity

death to kabakas

and class minorities

holding in subjugation

the mass majority

comrade walter walks among us

in spirit words and deeds

with great caribbean heroes

toussaint, marti, garvey can you hear their echo across the archipelago crying freedom for caribbean people.”

Or as Earlene Horne intones:

“His spirit is twice as strong

He lives on in me and you

and in all freedom fighters.”

Now, mid-June 2015 is the time to remember and to rise.