Learning from the past

Stabroek News
August 17, 2001

Dear Editor,

Walter Rodney was trained in History. He wrote History. He taught History at university.

For his strict observance to the principle of objectivity in a discipline easily given to partisan subjectivity, his peers considered him a man of rare genius. Rodney, while in Guyana as a political activist, commanded the admiration of the entire nation. He grounded with his brothers and sisters. On the stumps, he referred to former President, Forbes Burnham, as King Kong. He also observed that Burnham was the flip side of Midas, the Greek God, whose touch turned everything into gold. Burnham's touch, on the other hand, turned everything into ashes.

Hamilton Green, Burnham's cousin, was schooled at Burnham's feet. No one knows for sure the curriculum he followed. However, we do know that his relationship, tutelage and internship overlapped so that he became Burnham's "right-hand" man. Indeed, it is widely believed that it was Green who was responsible for Burnham's political rise and for his political longevity. As Cousin Hammy, he wielded so much power that people were fearful of his presence.

Mr Green has written a letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] captioned "Forbes Burnham made a major contribution to our nation" (6.8.200l). My memory leads me to conclusions contrary to his.

Perhaps Mr Green can deal with some of those unanswered questions like the Xl3 plan, the shooting of Dr Joshua Ramsammy, the murder of Walter Rodney and other WPA activists, the killing of Vincent Teekah, the murder of Fr Darke and the stoning of my residence when I was a candidate for parliament.

I agree with Mr Green that at these anniversary occasions "we must seek the truth, and learn from the mistakes of the past". Jim Jones, who was given freedom in Guyana space, during the Burnham/Green government had conspicuously emblazoned in his Peoples Temple Santayana's immortal words, "those who forget the mistakes of the past are likely to make them again".

That there was a Burnham-and-Green dictatorship, which brought the nation to the bottom of the economic and social ladder in just twenty-eight years, should not be forgotten, ever. If as Cousin Hammy advises, we are to seek the truth by learning from the past, we need to vigorously investigate that past with scholarly rigor.

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth Persaud