“Who murdered Dr. Walter Rodney on June 13th, 1980?” Legal experts might debate this question amongst themselves or publicly, just to be heard. Political parties and groups might strongly accuse some other of the dastardly act. At the end of all the babbling, a father was brutally ripped from his wife and young children, and a country and the whole world lost one of its gifted minds.
Walter Rodney returned to Guyana when the PNC was as fortified as armed soldiers in a mountain cave. Despite that, he fought to oust them. Though not a member of the WPA, or any party, I attended a few of Walter Rodney’s meetings, where he fearlessly attacked the PNC and Mr. Burnham, personally, likening him to the Black Midas whose touch turned everything to waste.
I admired the fact that, while most Guyanese trembled when Burnham’s name was mentioned, Walter Rodney had no fear of him. At one of his meetings on Merriman Mall, when the PNC-owned Rabbi Washington and his gang came to create havoc, Walter Rodney stood his ground and appealed to people to do the same, but many dispersed, fearing that they’d be beaten by the untouchable Rabbi and his mob.
I was teaching at a high school when Walter Rodney was murdered, and the principal said he’d been told to advise teachers to stay away from the funeral. What heartless vindictiveness! Or was it fear of a sudden uprising? Walter Rodney had developed quite a large following amongst Guyana’s two major races, and they (me included) were as thick as ants at his grave site in the Le Repentir Cemetery, sad but overwhelmingly angry.
Personally, I was just getting to know Walter Rodney when he was murdered. He had heard a few of my short stories on radio and was particularly interested in “Passian Rat”, a satire on Guyana’s political condition, with animals as the characters – akin to George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm. Bro Walter had said he’d like to borrow my story. Even more, he’d promised to write me a recommendation that I could present to book publishers. Regarding the latter, I had told him we had time for that, with me still organizing my work and writing. Alas, I never received the recommendation!
Had Walter Rodney lived, he likely would have been elected President of Guyana had he sought the position. On June 13th, 1980, Guyana lost a potentially dynamic leader, a brilliant, impactful scholar and a good, decent man and father.