McGowan traces Rodney’s roots


Walter Rodney, killed in an explosion in June 1981 in his homeland, Guyana, has been described as a great revolutionary Caribbean intellectual.Professor Emeritus at the University of Guyana, Winston McGowan, delivering the 26th Elsa Goveia Memorial Lecture at the Cave Hill Campus on Wednesday night, traced Rodney’s roots from birth to tertiary level education and the contribution he made to Guyana and the region through his writings. The lecture was sponsored by the Nation Publishing Co Ltd and hosted by the Deparment of History and Philosophy of the University of the West Indies.The audience heard how Rodney was denied work in his homeland, went to an African state and was asked to write the country’s history but was killed before he could start the assignment.It could be said that between 1963 and 1966, during his post graduate career in London that he developed fully into being a Marxist, McGowan said. “This significant development was due in large measure to his participation in the Marxist studies in London consisting mainly of young West Indians who met regularly under the guidance of the well known Trinidadian Marxist lecturer, CLR James and his wife Selma,” said McGowan, a contemporary of Rodney.He added that his foray into Marxism had a tremendous impact on his life and academic work.“Embracing Marxism also served to shape Rodney’s anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, (and) anti-neocolonialist approach to the world.“He strongly opposed the doctrine of capitalism as an economic system . . . . and instead he advocated socialism where workers’ interests would dominate, a system which he believed in the long run would lay a foundation for effective economic equality and genuine democratic opportunity for all.”McGowan has served  as secretary treasurer of the Association of Caribbean Historians and as editor of the Guyana Historical Journal. He is the recipient of the Arrow of Achievement, a national honour conferred by the Government of Guyana  for service to sports  and education.He was awarded the University of Guyana’s 40th anniversary Distinguished Service Medal. (PW)


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