RODNEY COI, Opening a “Can of Worms” for the PNC


MAY 4, 2014 | BY  | By: RALPH SEERAM

The PNC is worried, very worried, and has every right to be worried about disclosures emanating from the Rodney Commission of Inquiry; not that it’s anything new to older folks in Guyana and those in the Diaspora like myself.  They have for good and selfish reasons to worry about what more than half the voting population in Guyana is now learning about a period of Guyana’s history that they never experienced.

Today you read about how the PPP is undemocratic; how it’s a dictatorship, and to be honest some of the PPP behaviour brought this on. However young Guyanese are now learning what a true dictatorship was under the PNC, what a real police state Guyana was under PNC rule. 

The PNC knew this inquiry would damage its image, so it sought to set the stage to discredit the Rodney COI early on by questioning the impartiality of the Guyana- born member of the Commission, and this week digging up a 34-year-old speech by the Chairman of the COI.

One does not have to be a scholar to know the findings of this COI will be very unfavorable to the PNC which calls itself APNU these days to escape the stigma attached to its dictatorial past.
Today there is a proliferation of foreign goods in stores, foodstuff overflows in supermarket shelves, cars clog the streets of Georgetown, and foreign artistes are practically in Guyana every week to perform.

What the young people are going to learn is that this was not so in the 70’s and 80’s. Today you can buy any number and kinds of bath soap. Back in the PNC days you were thankful when someone come from abroad and gave you a bar of Irish Spring Soap. It was that bad; bath soap was a scarce commodity.

They will learn that essential items like sugar, rice and cooking oil were scarce commodities. You spend nearly a half day in line to get a pint or two cooking oil, then while in the line you may hear that “sugar come in” at another distribution point, so you dispatch another family member to line up for sugar. This may sound unbelievable to the young, but that was life under the PNC.

Oh and don’t even try to store up supplies. If the police raid your home and find what they consider excess supply for your household, you were charged for hoarding. Folks went to jail for having too much foodstuff in their home. You were jailed if you were found in possession of banned stuff like a can of sardines, tomato paste, potatoes and onions. That was also life under the PNC.

Yes times were tough and people wanted a change. The opposition PPP was helpless, so here comes this brilliant Guyanese and political activist Dr.Walter Rodney, on the political scene. Here was a man who confronted, insulted, opposed, and was most likely to depose the PNC regime. Rodney was dangerous for the PNC. Why?

Rodney’s political meetings drew thousands of Guyanese from all walks of life all races. In Berbice he drew thousands of people in PPP strongholds on the Corentyne, and I would say more than Dr. Cheddi Jagan would attract at the time. Remember Guyana was a police state.
While his meetings would draw thousands, it would also draw PNC thugs who would disrupt the meetings, cut the PA systems wires, and beat up WPA supporters, with the police standing by watching. I t would seem as if the police were there to protect the PNC thugs instead of maintaining law and order.

This is not hearsay; as a reporter back then I witnessed this with my own eyes. I recalled one instance in New Amsterdam, where a WPA activist was stomped to the ground by PNC thugs in sight of the police. One particular person whom I knew, kicked the WPA activist without mercy while the poor man was lying helplessly on the ground. But you know what, Karma is bitch. Years later that very leg that did the kicking was paralyzed with a stroke; Karma.

All hope and inspirations for a change died that June in 1980. My hope for a better Guyana died too with his death. Two months later I was in the United States with my family.

And what does Rodney’s death and the United States have in common today? In Rodney days the PPP were clamoring for the US to intervene and bring democracy to Guyana. This week the PPP government revoked the visa of the head of a US democracy project in Guyana. What irony.
A project like this the PPP would have welcome with open arms when in the opposition, so many wondered why the opposition now.

The PPP is playing a dangerous game when they upped the ante with the revocation of the visa,  I wondered if they thought this one through, I always felt that the President is being given wrong advice by the Jagdeo entrenched clique around him. There is going to be serious retaliation, seen and unseen, by the US, be sure of that, it would be more subtle than cancelling visas.

Many in the PPP must be worried. If the PPP government falls, many would run to the US, and if the PPP loses, many Government officials will find their escape route blocked by the US.
My old departed friend and folklorist Wordsworth Mc Andrew would have sized up the situation like this “Don’t wake a sleeping tiger”.

Ralph Seeram can be reached at email:

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 05/05/2014 at 10:38 pm

    “All hope and inspirations for a change died that June in 1980. My hope for a better Guyana died too with his death. ”

    It was a great blow to all of us who had hoped for change. That change is yet to come.

  • Albert  On 05/05/2014 at 11:20 pm

    Could someone write something about Walter Rodney (apart from rhetoric) that would show him as an outstanding figure. The curious would like to know. Mandela was a revolutionary figure who became an outstanding political leader after his country’s independence. Because of his approach wealthy white settlers remained and work to build South Africa. Mugabe in Mozambique was also a revolutionary figure. The attempt to implement his ideas as a political leader after independence resulted in economic and political turmoil. Extremely difficult for a revolutionist to turn around and become a political administrator.
    The last time I heard a knowledgeable person spoke about Rodney it was said he created a major strike, in the African country in which he was a college lecturer, then fled. So what did Walter Rodney do to make him outstanding.

    • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 05/06/2014 at 4:08 pm

      Albert, what can be more outstanding than for a man to risk his life and lose it in his attempt to free the Guyanese people from the dictatorship government of Forbes Burnham?

      Some of us are courageous revolutionaries; others are great political administrators. Each one plays his/her part in moving a nation forward.

    • Thinker  On 05/06/2014 at 11:28 pm

      Mugabe is from Zimbabwe. Rodney was expelled from Jamaica. You are obviously too young or too old to appreciate Rodney. Do the background research on him first.

      • Albert  On 05/08/2014 at 11:15 pm

        Thinker “……….too old to appreciate Rodney” You might be right here. My bigger question is why do Africans worldwide remain economically underdeveloped.

  • Gripes  On 05/06/2014 at 5:49 am

    He was trying to get a military radio to listen in on their communications…The radio he got exploded and killed him..Still trying to figure out how legit his intentions were.

  • francis jackson  On 05/06/2014 at 9:21 am

    My response to Albert, Dr. Walter Rodney wrote several books, one of them well known in academic circles and listed in the curriculum syllabuses ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ I lived in the diaspora and on June 13,1980, I knew where I was when the news of his death struck me.

  • Roger Ramjet  On 05/07/2014 at 9:58 am

    Mr Seeram talks about “can of worms” for PNC. Maybe he should have also mentioned the more recent PPP- Roger Khan history. We need an inquiry on that…. not the one on Rodney… so long ago that the alleged accused is dead.

    This Rodney inquiry was timed by the PNC to coincide with planned elections. It is intended be for propaganda purposes by the PPP. We, as young people, do not want to know about Burnham and his deeds as we have lived through the Jagdeo regimes and his deeds …and they seem similar… these are fresh in our mind.
    What the country needs now is an inquiry into the Roger Khan era of carnage 2001-2008- and the alleged complicity of the PPP government. The opposition called for an inquiry a few years ago … now they seem to have forgotten… maybe 30 years from now we will get an inquiry … similar to this one on Rodney when most of the people are dead.

    Here is a Stabroek News editorial and related articles that highlight the deeds of the PPP and the Roger Khan Phantom gang rampage with the deaths of Waddell and Minister Sash Shaw and over 400 mostly African youths in Guyana.

    Roger Khan: The elephant in the room

    Related Content – articles in Stabroek News
     PNCR calls for probe commission into Roger Khan criminal enterprise (March 28, 2009)
     APNU will press for enquiry into Roger Khan era, crime wave – Granger (February 5, 2012)
     Roger Khan must ‘speak whatever he knows’ -Jagdeo (July 30, 2009)
     Gov’t must come clean on Roger Khan – PNCR (May 24, 2008)
     People will not take the PNC seriously in their call for an investigation into Roger Khan’s alleged links with the government (June 8, 2009)
     Is this Roger Khan probe a big joke on the nation? (October 23, 2009)
     AFC wants UN enquiry of Roger Khan activities (June 17, 2008)

  • gigi  On 05/07/2014 at 1:53 pm

    “And what does Rodney’s death and the United States have in common today? In Rodney days the PPP were clamoring for the US to intervene and bring democracy to Guyana. This week the PPP government revoked the visa of the head of a US democracy project in Guyana. What irony.
    A project like this the PPP would have welcome with open arms when in the opposition, so many wondered why the opposition now.”

    The PPP learned ANOTHER valuable lesson from the US govt. Similar to what it learned when the US govt instigated racial strife and put the dictator Burnham in place as their puppet. Fool me one shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

    The US- like the UN- like the WHO- like the IMF- like NAFTA- and like a host of others are not concerned with what is fair and just and the moral good. They are a festering sore and a leech that deprive their victims of a decent and honorable life, even in death; subjecting them to a faith worst than mosquito.

    People speak of plague with fear and tremor, yet of destroyers like Alexander and Napoleon, they speak with ecstatic reverence – Kahlil Gibran

  • ndtewarie  On 05/08/2014 at 12:39 pm

    “He who tries to ride 2 asses bound to fall on his own”

    KARMA II ©
    > Today some don’t believe in aged karma
    > Because it is not in their cultural dharma
    > The Germans are guilty of this evil thing
    > When millions sat around and did nothing
    > As Adolph Hitler slaughtered millions of Jews in blazes
    > They’re sitting on the same soil with the bones and ashes
    > On the notorious Auchwitz-Berga-Dachau death camps
    > When Jews had their final showers by those evil scamps
    > And the so-called good Germans sat by and did nothing
    > How can they feel now that the world knows everything
    > What went on with all their weird experiment
    > On those men, women and children so innocent
    > If there’s a God by and under any denomination
    > Karma is there all over its Germanic demarcation
    > And believe me in karma such place is darn cursed
    > Whether the helpers were willing or were forced
    > And the world goes on as some try for peace
    > We’ve seen mankind’s desensitivity increase
    > Very few leaders now are or can do the following
    > Of Mahatma Gandhi, Mandella or Martin L King
    > Most are too busy in nepotism and corruption
    > Their souls are floundering in a boiling cauldon
    > Yet despite how much they work and sweat
    > They can never get out of their Karmic debt
    > So we agree that Karma comes back to bite
    > It will happen no matter how hard you fight
    > Mankind has to understand that it is all okay
    > Accept your life as is no matter what who say
    > The sick child is part of karma making its mark
    > Don’t blame yourself live your life sing like a lark
    > Make the most of what you’ve today without sorrow
    > Embrace the hurt and live it like there’s no tomorrow
    > Thanks
    > NDTewarie
    > ———————————————

  • Thinker  On 05/11/2014 at 3:18 pm

    In response to Albert
    Africans worldwide have to make a deliberate effort to organise themselves socially and economically. Every other group does that and it can only be based on trust. Money must circulate within the community to support black business and employment. This one-parent family and nonsense “about my mother who fathered me” must not be seen as a norm because it has terrible consequences for the education of children. It is a disadvantage and must be recognised as such.

    As for Africa itself, lots of strides have to be made in business. Nothing to prevent Blacks being as greedy as everyone else. Nigeria is just about the only country where the business community is just about 100% black. Not surprising that they have a reputation as con artists. So do many others. The Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa basically have the right idea but their project cannot be implemented all at once. Land and resources are crucial. Training and Education must come in a major way first.

    But Blacks have to start liking themselves first. Lots of the above are lacking.

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