Walter Rodney: a socialist critic of western imperialism whose life questioned leftism 

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Walter Rodney

Walter Rodney was a man of action. He was a type of man dubbed “truly generational” and it was not based on his intelligence alone but bravery. He was also an activist-academic.

Rodney lived his life in a manner that asked questions from those who say they are progressive or revolutionary. Throughout his lifetime, it was as if Rodney was telling other leftists, “Enough of your theories and ideas. Put your words into actions.”

He put his life on the line, quite literally. Born on March 23rd, 1942, but died a horrible death. He was assassinated in a car bomb at just 38-years-old in his hometown of Georgetown, Guyana, in June 1980.

He was an academic historian who designed the monumental critical historical work, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”.

A politician who birthed a prototype on how to force people in power to reckon with the truths of the disenfranchised and underprivileged. Although, many still believe that he was assassinated because of his political life. 

He died at a prime age but his thoughts seem eternally invaluable.

Here are  four quotes through which Africans and people of African descent can find inspiration.

“This is basically, trying to treat history as though it is the inheritance of the ruling class, which will dispense however much of it they want to dispense at any point in time” from Walter Rodney Speaks .

In ‘Walter Speaks’, the historian forewarned us that there has always been a tendency for history to become the narrative of “victors”.

“When we do not take precautions, our history becomes the story of those who besieged our lands and exploited us. “History” then simply becomes an ode to those who get to compose them”.

“[The] relationship of wealth with whites and poverty with blacks is not accidental. It is the nature of the imperialist association that empowers the metropolis at the expense of the colony 

A publication in 1969, Rodney predicts our times where inequality is invariably forged into racism. Rodney informed us that this perpetuation is supposed to make the white establishment wealthy.

“If economic power is aimed outside national African boundaries, then political and military power in any real sense is also aimed outside until, and unless, the people of peasants and workers are mobilized to offer an alternative to the system of sham political independence,” extracted from “How Europe Undervalued Africa”.

Here, Rodney undermines the idea that African independence should be accompanied with economic stability. For Rodney, the means of material sustenance for Africans have never really been within their supervision or control.

In another significant discussion, Rodney admonished us to understand that those Africans and people of African descent we call sell-outs are a symptom of European imperialism.

Africh Royale

Africh Royale

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