The current Commission of Inquiry into the death of WPA’s Walter Rodney, 34 years ago, has aroused passionate responses from the range of its ‘witnesses’ as well as other observers. From the perspectives of some readers and TV screeners, who are not totally under-informed contemporaries of that era, the emerging panorama of opinions and views, as opposed to facts is instructive, if not dismaying.
A friend of mine is fond of the quote which says ‘you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.’
With great respect to the jurists involved, it is difficult not to be confounded by the breadth of unsubstantiated evidence proffered. It is as if there were a large mosaic contributed by artists who are essentially impressionists, respectively whitewashing and colouring individual portraits and institutional images. Then there are times when the eloquent silence of the ‘enquisitors’ lends credence to the unfolding theatre of the imagination.
Why does one get the impression that apart from (pre)fabricated documentation, more intelligence has not been researched from the published records of the day? Admittedly, cursory attention does not recall any resort to the daily publications lying either in the National Library or in the National Archives. How could such resources (comparatively more authentic) be ignored? If in fact this is the case, then it represents a palpable dereliction of competence on the part of all the actors involved. How credible then are the theatrics being played out to both a forgetful generation, and subsequently estranged ones? The latter in particular are entitled to a modicum of historical truth, rather than submersion in a wash (however unwitting) of melodrama.
It is an interesting conundrum wherein justice is being sought through an inadequate juridical process at best.
E B John