Monday, June 13, 2011

Brother Wally: Walter Rodney's Groundings With My Brothers

"We must understand that we are still locked in struggle. And 
we are reaffirming our commitment to struggle, and we are
saying we are ready to proceed. We are moving forward, we are
not intimidated, we recognize the pressures, but we are far
from bending under those pressures." 
-- Walter Rodney, June
6, 1980, Georgetown, Guyana

In Grounding With My Brothers, Walter Rodney called Rastafari bredren, "the leading force of the expression of black consciousness in the Caribbean."  In an introduction to the work, Richard Small reflected on how fast in the 1970s the young Guyanese-born scholar had gained popularity in Jamaica and in the entire Caribbean as "the man who knew about Africa ... and who would talk to anybody who wanted to hear him ..." 
Although a well-respected professor of African Studies at the University of The West Indies at that time, Dr. Rodney preferred grass roots reasonings with Rasta and poor people in Kingston rather than mixing and mingling with socialites at the university.

"There is no continuity in my life in respect of old acquaintances. We meet;I try to be pleasant; and I move on. For our generation too is adding its quota to the frightening sterility of the society. Living off campus is a great boon, for it reduces my contact with rum-sipping soul selling intellectuals of Mona..." 

Having come from a modest background in Georgetown, Guyana,  he emphasized the need for Black intellectuals to attach themselves to the plight of the masses.
  
"I would go further down into West Kingston and I would speak wherever there was a possibility of our getting together. It might be in a sports club, it might be in a schoolroom, it might be in a church, it might be in a gully. (Those of you who come from Jamaica know those gully corners.) They are dark, dismal places with a black population who have had to seek refuge there. You will have to go there if you want to talk to them. I have spoken in what people call ‘dungle’, rubbish dumps, for that is where people live in Jamaica. People live in rubbish dumps."

“The first essential was to operate outside of the petty bourgeois University campus and outside of the 'respectable' middle class suburb where I resided. My background in Guyana was working class, but after the alienation produced by the educational system, it was up to me to retake the initiative to rediscover my brothers and sisters. I sought them out where they lived, worked, worshiped, and had their recreation. In turn they 'checked' me at work or at home, and together we 'probed' here and there, learning to recognize our common humanity. Naturally they wanted to know what I stood for, what I ‘defended’. I never gave anyone money or bought them drinks; that one must leave to the political gangsters’ of the two-party system. At some point I ceased to be Dr Rodney and was addressed as 'Brother Rodney' or better still ‘Brother Wally’ That simple change meant I was no longer a tool of the establishment, but was readmitted into the moral and cultural brotherhood of the Black man.”

"So long as there are people who deny our humanity as blacks, then for so long must we proclaim and assert our humanity as blacks. That is why our historical and cultural heritage is so important, and that is why we must proceed to live our culture because culture is a way of life. We must recover what was taken away from us and we must adapt in order to survive and keep on growing as a section of humanity."


Note~ Groundings/reasonings are communal discussions,lectures or exchanging of ideas, information and opinions





More on Dr. Walter Rodney
Methodmecca.com: Who is Walter 
Roots and Culture Media
The Signifyin' Woman (Charmaine Valere) 
A June 13th Tribute: Walter Rodney, the Rastafari and ‘dungles’ everywhere


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