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Patricia Rodney remembers her revolutionary husband

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The account in this ROUND TABLE is based mainly on the first day of testimony by Dr Patricia Rodney to the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry into her husband’s assassination. Date 20.10.14, Georgetown, Guyana.{{more}}

At one time we had to move out of our house. I had to move my parents out of our home because there were threats that our house was going to be bombed. My two daughters stayed with relatives, my sons stayed with a friend and Walter and I stayed in what was called “safe homes.” I never knew where the “safe house” would be that night. We could not stay in the same house every time…. Somebody would offer a house and we would go and sleep there.

It affected our children tremendously. I remember my daughter Kanini said that they had had a meeting and they decided they wanted to be in their own home, so we sat down and talked to them about safety measures. Not to open unidentified boxes, mail. We coached them through being safe.

We engaged the children in a lot of activities and as normal as they could be. One year when I was away studying in Jamaica, Walter, with the assistance of my parents, looked after the children, and my mother told me when I came back that she was often embarrassed because he would insist on combing the girls’ hair, which he could not do and she felt ashamed that the girls (aged 7 and 9) were going out looking like this and there was no colour coordination, anything the children wanted to wear, they would wear. Walter would also take them to the archives where he was doing research… they would take a hand broom because the place was so dusty and they would help their dad to sweep up the archives. He took them everywhere that they went.

On the day he was killed, Walter took the children to school early and came back home and we talked about our going to Zimbabwe and we did some errands. Later that evening, once we had picked up the children from school, Shaka (our son) and Kanini were going to a farewell party for two friends. And Asha and I were going to attend a film show at her school. Before we left home, his brother Donald came and Walter told me ‘take the car, Donald will give me a ride to my meeting, and we will meet back home after our various activities’.

We were enjoying the film; then Father Malcom Rodriquez, came into the audience and said ‘We have to leave… Walter has had a terrible accident. Walter has been killed’ We drove to the home to pick up Shaka and Kanini. I told them that something happened to their dad and Kanini said ‘He is dead, isn’t he?’ and I said yes. The children were all visibly shocked. They were very aware children. They knew that other people had been killed because of the things we had as a family was a weekly family meeting every Friday afternoon. We would sit and discuss what happened for that week in school and otherwise.

All three children were impacted tremendously, but each child has their own personality and ways of expressing their feelings. Shaka undertook a hunger strike to press for this commission of inquiry. I was at a conference in Canada, when my daughter Asha called and said to me ‘mom, sit down. Shaka is going to Guyana and this is what he’s going to do. He is going to carry out a hunger strike’.

The inquiry into Walter Rodney’s assassination is suspended until next year 2015; however, Wozis Mohammed and Horace Campbell make the point that early 2015 could very well be an unsettling time for Guyana, so the feature of the inquiry is uncertain. It is unusual to get insights into the private space of revolutionaries; most often it is the public activity and thought that we need. In both his public and private life, Rodney is both unusual and exemplary and we thank his wife for her exposure of the man whom she idolized without making him a saint.

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