A Murder Dem Did Murder Walter Rodney

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘Chaka-Chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘Prapa-Prapa’, is the specialist system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.

CHAKA-CHAKA SPELLING

Sunday gone, bashment pon di Internet fi Walter Rodney an im wife Patricia an dem three pikni Shaka, Kanini an Asha, an im breda Donald! Two Thursday aback, Govament a Guyana mek big announcement seh dem a go change up Rodney death cerfiticket. Dem a go tek off ‘misadventure’ an put een ‘assassination.’ Fi 41 long-long year, Rodney fambily an im whole heap a supporter dem did a fight, fight, fight fi set di record straight. Wat a celebration!

Pon June 13, 1980, Walter an im breda Donald did a drive inna im car inna Georgetown, an one boom go off. Donald get hurt an Walter dead. Ascorden to Forbes Burnham govament, Walter did a carry di boom fi go blow up one prison couple chain from weh im dead. An it go off by accident. Nutten nuh go so. A murder dem murder im. Donald seh Gregory Smith, one sergeant inna di Guyana Defence Force, gi Walter one walkie-talkie. Im never know seh a trap Smith a trap im. Di walkie-talkie a di boom.

Walter Rodney was a History professor. Im write nuff book fi show wi seh poor people ha fi stand up fi demself an change dem situation. All like A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905. Walter a nuh nuh so-so bookman, weh talk an write bout revolution. Im did join di Working People’s Alliance fi fight gainst Forbes Burnham People’s National Congress. Dat deh Congress never defend di people dem at all, at all. Di Govament a Guyana never like how Rodney did a stir up di people dem. African an Indian! A it mek dem murder im.

Ina dis ya time, di People’s Progressive Party/Civic govament seh dem a go mek sure seh all a Walter Rodney book dem inna di education system. From primary to university. Rodney did write two book fi pikni: Lakshmi Out of India and Kofi Baadu Out of Africa. An im book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa study inna university all over di world.

PERSONA NON GRATA

Fi wi owna govament supposen fi clear Walter Rodney name to. Inna 1968, di backward Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) govament try fi murder Rodney reputation. Dem seh im a ‘persona non grata.’ Dat a straight Latin. It nah even a try pass fi English: person not acceptable. Wa mek? Rodney did a teach African History a University of the West Indies. An im did a teach inna di community to. Im write bout dat inna im powerful lickle book, The Groundings With My Brothers. Im did ground wid sistren too. But oonoo done know how it did go inna dem deh time. Uman blank out. All conscious man like Rodney dweet.

Hugh Shearer govament did fraid a di knowledge weh Rodney did a spread. A it mek dem dash im outa di country. Up to ‘black’ book di JLP ban. Dem so careless, dem never even read some a di book dem. All like Black Beauty. Dat a one story bout wan horse. Suppose it did even bout black people! Inna one country full a black people, di JLP govament never waah wi fi know seh wi beautiful? Tings an times change; but not to dat. Wi better study wi history so wi can know how fi stand up strong an defend black power.

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

Sonde gaan, bashment pan di Intanet fi Walter Rodney an im waif Patricia an dem chrii pikni Shaka, Kanini an Asha, an im breda Donald! Tuu Torsde abak, Govament a Guyana mek big anounsment se dem a go chienj op Rodney det serfitikit. Dem a go tek aaf ‘misadventure’ an put iin ‘assassination.’ Fi 41 lang-lang ier, Rodney fambili an im uol iip a sopuota dem did a fait, fait, fait fi set di rekaad schriet. Wat a selibrieshan!

Pan Juun 13, 1980, Walter an im breda Donald did a jraiv ina im kyar ina Georgetown, an wan bum go aaf. Donald get ort an Walter ded. Azkaadn tu Forbes Burnham govament, Walter did a kyari di bum fi go bluo op wan prizn kopl chien fram we im ded. An it go aaf bai aksident. Notn no go so. A morda dem morda im. Donald se Gregory Smith, wan saajant ina di Guyana Defence Force, gi Walter wan waaki-taaki. Im neva nuo se a chrap Smith a chrap im. Di waaki-taaki a di bum.

Walter Rodney woz a Iscrhi profesa. Im rait nof buk fi shuo wi se puor piipl a fi stan op fi demself an chienj dem sityuweshan. Aal laik A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905. Walter a no no suoso bukman, we taak an rait bout revoluushan. Im did jain di Working People’s Alliance fi fait gens Forbes Burnham People’s National Congress. Dat de Congress neva difen di piipl dem at aal, at aal. Di Govament a Guyana neva laik ou Rodney did a stor op di piipl dem. Afrikan an Indiyan! A it mek dem morda im.

Ina dis ya taim, di People’s Progressive Party/Civic govament se dem a go mek shuor se aal a Walter Rodney buk dem ina di edikieshan sistim. Fram praimeri tu yuunivorsiti. Rodney did rait tuu buk fi pikni: Lakshmi Out of India and Kofi Baadu Out of Africa. An im buk How Europe Underdeveloped Africa stodi ina yuunivorsiti aal uova di worl.

PERSONA NON GRATA

Fi wi uona govament supuoz fi klier Walter Rodney niem tu. Ina 1968, di bakwod Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) govament chrai fi morda Rodney repitieshan. Dem se im a ‘persona non grata.’ Dat a schriet Latin. It naa iivn a chrai paas fi Ingglish: person not acceptable. Wa mek? Rodney did a tiich Afrikan Ischri a University of the West Indies. An im did a tiich ina di komyuuniti tu. Im rait bout dat ina im powaful likl buk, The Groundings With My Brothers. Im did groun wid sistrin tu. Bot unu don nuo ou it did go ina dem de taim. Uman blank out. Aal kanshos man laik Rodney dwiit.

Hugh Shearer govament did fried a di nalij we Rodney did a spred. A it mek dem dash im outa di konchri. Op tu ‘blak’ buk di JLP ban. Dem so kielis, dem neva iivn riid som a di buk dem. Aal laik Black Beauty. Dat a wan stuori bout wan haas. Sopuoz it did iivn bout blak piipl! Ina wan konchri ful a blak piipl di JLP govament neva waan wi fi nuo se wi byuutiful? Tingz an taimz chienj; bot nat tu dat. Wi beta stodi wi ischri so wi kyan nuo ou fi stan op chrang an difen blak powa.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Walter Rodney Was Murdered

Last Sunday, there was a huge party on the Internet for Walter Rodney, his wife Patricia and their three children Shaka, Kanini and Asha, and his brother Donald! Two Thursdays ago, the Government of Guyana announced that Rodney’s death certificate was going to be amended. ‘Misadventure’ would be deleted and replaced by ‘assassination.’ For 41 long, long years, Rodney’s family and his numerous supporters fought relentlessly to set the record straight. What a celebration!

On June 13, 1980, Walter and his brother Donald were driving in his car in Georgetown when a bomb exploded. Donald was injured and Walter was killed. According to the Forbes Burnham government, Walter was carrying the bomb to go and blow up a prison a short distance from where he died. And it went off by accident. Nothing of the sort! He was murdered. Donald said that Gregory Smith, a sergeant in the Guyana Defence Force, gave Walter a walkie-talkie. He didn’t know that Smith had set a trap for him. The walkie-talkie was the bomb.

Walter Rodney was a History professor. He wrote many books to convince us that poor people have to stand up for themselves and change their situation. For example, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905. Walter wasn’t just one of those academics who only talk and write about revolution. He joined the Working People’s Alliance to fight against Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress. That Congress did not defend the people at all. The Government of Guyana did not like how Rodney was stirring up people. Africans and Indians! That’s why they murdered him.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic, the current ruling party, announced that they are going to ensure that all of Walter Rodney’s books are in the curriculum. At all levels, from primary to tertiary. Rodney wrote two books for children: Lakshmi Out of India and Kofi Baadu Out of Africa. And his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is studied in universities all over the world.

PERSONA NON GRATA

Our own government should also clear Walter Rodney’s name. In 1968, the backward Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government tried to murder Rodney’s reputation. They declared him ‘persona non grata.’ That’s straight Latin. It’s not even trying pass for English: person not acceptable. For what reason? Rodney was teaching African History at The University of the West Indies. And he also taught in the community. He wrote about that in his powerful little book, The Groundings With My Brothers. He grounded with sisters too. But you do know how it was in those days. Women were erased. Even progressive men like Rodney did it.

Hugh Shearer’s government was afraid of the knowledge that Rodney was spreading. That’s why they threw him out of the country. The JLP banned even ‘black’ books. They were so careless, they didn’t even read some of the books. Like Black Beauty. That’s a story about a horse. Suppose it was even about black people! In a country full of black people, the JLP government did not want us to know that we are beautiful? Things and times have changed; but not all that. We had better study our history so we can know how to stand up strong and defend black power.

One thought on “A Murder Dem Did Murder Walter Rodney

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  1. Walter Rodney is a staple name in the Jamaican locality ad diasporas. He was truly a legendary figure amongst the populace. We will never forget this quintessential giant. It was plain murder I recalled the news of his demise it was so sad. Persona non grata is a wrong name given to this icon for his tremendous works with our people. Walter, we salute you now that your name has been cleared and taken out of the despicable quagmire.

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