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‘Another world is necessary’

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EDITOR: When I first went to talk to Walter Rodney he was tutoring a small group of students at the University in Jamaica, and I listened in.

As they came out, at the end of the class, I heard one of them say: “He make the thing sound so interesting and believable,” and that was exactly how I felt after having listened to just a few minutes of his lecture on feudal Europe. {{more}}

This was around April – May 1968, and when I invited Doctor Rodney to come and speak to the students at the Theology College (UTCWI) at Mona, his warm answer was: “I’ll be pleased to do so.”

Our students and lecturers turned out and listened to this black power man talk and we had a lively even enthralling period of discussion. Time was what made us stop. Mrs. Rodney and an infant Rodney were also present.

Couple of weeks later, the student council wanted to hear more from Rodney, but he was not able to attend. And so they invited Mrs. Marcus Garvey, and we had another enlightening evening.

Not surprising

It was not altogether surprising therefore that students of the Theological College joined with students of the university and others to march in protest when the Shearer government of Jamaica “banned” Dr. Rodney from re entering Jamaica in October 1968.

Twelve years later in June 1980, Rodney was assassinated in Guyana and from the whole region, the groans and howls and ragings from thousands, if not millions of hearts saddened the earth.

It is 23 years now since Walter Rodney’s passing on June 13, 1980, and two conferences will take place in Guyana to remember, rethink and pay tribute to this revolutionary Caribbean son and father. This weekend will see his colleagues in struggle gather to enter and process his work.

In August, the Universities of Guyana and of the West Indies (UG and UWI) will organise another conference. At this weekend’s conference, four Vincentians will make contributions. Prime Minister Gonsalves will speak on “The Walter Rodney I Knew”, and Nelcia Robinson, Renwick Rose and Oscar Allen will be panelists who will discuss “Free Trade” and “Food Security In The Region Today”.

Contribution buried

I welcome these conference tributes to Rodney, but to tell the truth, I am disgusted that for the 25 years since he died, the contribution of this fine human being, scholar, revolutionary and Pan Africanist has been buried quietly, diplomatically, obscenely.

Most often, when I mention the name Walter Rodney, people turn to me with a faraway look in their eyes, then they ask if I mean Walter Raleigh, a British con man from 400 years ago!?

Two conferences cannot restore Rodney to his place, and the theme for this weekend’s meeting: “Another World Is Necessary” reminds me of Rodney’s visionary ideals and the price he willingly paid for those ideals. Yet the theme is a vacuous nonsense unless others, including me, recapture the visions and embody the strategies to make what is necessary, become possible; because this morning’s world is such a ripe bowlie.

Oscar Allen







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