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Walter Rodney

Walter Rodney: A Promise of Revolution

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Walter Rodney
    Book Description:

    The life of the great Guyanese scholar and revolutionary Walter Rodney burned with a rare intensity. The son of working class parents, Rodney showed great academic promise and was awarded scholarships to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and the School of African and Oriental Studies in London. He received his PhD from the latter at the age of twenty-four, and his thesis was published asA History of the Upper Guinea Coast, now a classic of African history. His most famous work,How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, is a mainstay of radical literature and anticipated the influential world systems theory of Immanuel Wallerstein. Not content merely to study the world, Rodney turned to revolutionary politics in Jamaica, Tanzania, and in Guyana. In his homeland, he helped form the Working People's Alliance (WPA) and was a consistent voice for the oppressed and exploited. As Rodney became more popular , the threat of his revolutionary message stirred fears among the powerful in Guyana and throughout the Caribbean, and he was assassinated in 1980. This book presents a moving and insightful portrait of Rodney through by the words of academics, writers, artists, and political activists who knew him intimately or felt his influence. These informal recollections and reflections demonstrate why Rodney is such a widely admired figure throughout the world, especially in poor countries and among oppressed peoples everywhere.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-330-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-7)
    (pp. 8-8)
    (pp. 9-10)
    (pp. 11-12)
  7. 1 INTRODUCTION Clairmont Chung
    (pp. 13-28)

    I was thirteen, in 1971, when Dave (not his real name) passed through my street and said he had something for me. The next day he brought new copies of Frantz Fanon’sBlack Skin, White Masks,¹ and an anthology,The Complete Works of Mao Tse Tung,volume 1.² Dave had recently been deported from New York City. Occasionally, he would stop and talk. These were brief encounters on Main Street, just outside Tiger Bay in Georgetown, Guyana. He lived in Albouystown, South Georgetown, but used to visit someone in Tiger Bay.

    I do not recall a lot of the details...

  8. 2 Robert “Bobby” Moore
    (pp. 29-34)

    The first half of the 1950s brought V. J. Sanger Davies and Walter Rodney to Queen’s College. For Mr. Sanger Davies, who arrived from the Gambia in 1953, it meant being principal of an awesomely prestigious high school (high schools based on the British grammar principle were often referred to as colleges), with an outstanding record of academic distinction among its graduates. Even those not academically inclined were noted for an urbane and easily recognized self-confidence. Leadership in many situations in Guyanese society was often accorded to graduates as a matter of course.

    For Walter Rodney, being at Queen’s College...

  9. 3 Abbyssinian Carto
    (pp. 35-58)

    I have been living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for the last seven years. I am an artist, and I got politically involved when I first came to the United States. In Guyana, when I left, there was some amount of political consciousness, but not formed in any direction. When I first came to the States, I knew about slavery but not what it really meant, even though Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean were slave societies. It’s amazing how ill-informed we are about its origins or its impact, how little we know. We sort of treat it as a...

  10. 4 Dr. Brenda Do Harris
    (pp. 59-64)

    I returned to Guyana in December 1973. I worked at the Ministry of Information for about a year. Then in 1975, I went to Bishops’ High School where I started teaching. When I went back home, I really was not interested in getting involved in anything beyond myself and my friends. But the situation, as I saw it gradually evolving, required some kind of participation.

    My brother, who was an officer in the Guyana National Service,¹ had told me there were people in the National Service who had been abused. He started documenting some of these instances of abuse. During...

  11. 5 Robert Hill
    (pp. 65-70)

    There were never flyers. There was nothing ever announced. Rastafarians evolved this ritual practice that Walter adapted to. And it basically consists of Rastas sitting around a campfire, lighting a pipe, singing praises to his majesty, reciting prayers, but the thing that keeps fueling it and driving it are reasonings. A topic will emerge and different individuals will approach it and start to debate it, and then there will be prayers and more pipe smoking. The lighting of the pipe is very important because of the evocations they make in the process of lighting the pipe. And when the pipe...

  12. 6 Amiri Baraka
    (pp. 71-78)

    When I met Walter, he was in Tanzania. He had just gotten sick, and he was in the hospital in Dar es Salaam. I talked to him a couple times there, before I left. That was the first time I met him, in Dar es Salaam. But I had known his writing, and I had heard about him from the people and the general kind of Pan-Africanist groups, and when I got to Tanzania, one of my closest friends there, Muhammad Babu,¹ talked about Walter a lot. So I think we had a kind of cordiality among us based on...

  13. 7 Leith Mullings
    (pp. 79-82)

    I went to Tanzania in 1970, and I was there from May to about the beginning of November. I was a graduate student at the time. 1970 was a very tumultuous time. The Vietnam War was on. In the United States protesting students from Kent State and JacksonState universities had been killed protesting the Vietnam War. In Tanzania, anti-colonial movements were in the midst of their most important activity. So, in Dar es Salaam,¹ you could meet freedom fighters from the Caribbean, from all over Africa, and from the United States. So, it was a very exciting place to be....

  14. 8 Issa G. Shivji
    (pp. 83-94)

    I grew up in the eastern region of Tanzania, where I did my primary school. All my secondary school I did in Dar es Salaam—actually, [living] in this very apartment. So I grew up here. Then in 1966 I completed my high school, and in 1967 I joined the university. At that time it was the University College, Dar es Salaam, because it was part of the University of East Africa. 1967 was an important year because the year before there had been a student demonstration that opposed the government’s proposal to start National Service, which was mandatory for...

  15. 9 Clive Yolande Thomas
    (pp. 95-108)

    Walter and I—it was more than serendipity. In fact, I went to Tanzania because Walter urged me to go. At that point they were looking for a professor of economics, and he was among a few scholars who felt that they should get someone from the Third World. It was a suggestion initiated by Walter and some of his comrades that I would be the ideal person to to be visiting professor for the academic year. When I went there, that was the period I became very familiar with Walter. We actually became friends.

    Prior to that, our paths...

  16. 10 Rupert Roopnaraine
    (pp. 109-126)

    The trip to Zimbabwe¹ in Walter’s life, and certainly as we think back over the weeks and months before the assassination, seems to grow in significance. Getting Walter to Zimbabwe was, of course, a horrendous task. We were at the time leading members of the WPA, all under twenty-four-hour surveillance. We were routinely changing cars, sleeping in different beds every night, and so on. We had to get him from here to Zimbabwe. The decision was taken, and it was kept to a very tight group that knew about it. Obviously, Pat² and Bro, Eusi,³ myself, and that was it....

    (pp. 127-130)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 131-148)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 149-155)