MANY Guyanese here at home and abroad are extremely pleased that the National Assembly passed a motion to adopt the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of historian, Dr Walter Rodney. This is indeed long overdue as that CoI goes back to well over five years, and at the time, the expectations were rife, that some kind of rectification was imminent, as regards the truth concerning Dr. Walter Rodney’s demise. The motion was via Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, on behalf of government, for the Assembly to adopt the report and its findings, and these findings are indeed important to the country’s history. By way of encapsulation, they are that: the late President Forbes Burnham and the People’s National Congress were culpable in Rodney’s death; the former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member Gregory Smith was directly responsible for Dr. Rodney’s death on June 13, 1980; he, Gregory Smith, acted as an agent of the State, having been aided and abetted so to do, by individuals holding positions of leadership in State agencies and committed to carrying out the wishes of the PNC Administration.
Let me add a few other important things concerning this appropriate adoption from the government, and these relate to a direct correction of Rodney’s history, namely his death.
First, and rightly so, Dr. Rodney’s death certificate will now read ‘death by assassination,’ and not the vulgar by ‘misadventure,’ that was affixed by the Burnhamites at the time. According to Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, this was in response to a request by Dr. Rodney’s widow and children. I love the fact that the 1988 farcical inquest that had been conducted, will now be invalidated. Moving to resuscitate the Walter Rodney Chair at the University of Guyana and including several of the late historian’s works as part of the Guyana’s school curriculum are indeed most welcome, as they are necessary indeed.
I need not go on to what are some of the other posthumous changes to be effected, as I think my point is well-made. However, I refer to the U.S. Embassy in Guyana in 1980. From the inception, there resided strong evidence to believe that the death of Walter Rodney was a political assassination, and this is based on documents obtained and posted by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University.
So, finally, after over four decades, the heinous crime of the killing of one of Guyana’s greatest sons has been put to rest.