[Marxism] 'Freedom Day' hah... Re: (Fwd) Dignity for Walter Rodney: sign petition against Forbes Burnham's SA honour on Saturday
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Apr 27 04:49:02 MDT 2013
On 4/27/2013 12:16 PM, demba moussa dembele wrote:
> Dear Patrick,
> Thank you very much for initiating this petition.
No, just passing it along... so readers, do sign if you haven't...
> This would be a great insult to the memory of Walter Rodney
Sorry, not 'would' but '*/is/*' ... because in a short while it will
> Even if Zuma ends up honoring Burnham, we should continue circulating
> the petition and let all progressive intellectuels and social
> movements know about this shameful and despicable act
This sort of act will indeed continue, because it signifies how SA
foreign policy is up for sale; the Dalai Lama's inability to get a visa
to visit Archbishop Tutu for his 80th birthday party in 2011 was just
one high-profile example of s Pretoria rulers being under the donor's
thumb, rubbishing the ANC's proud solidaristic history.
We were first sickened by this realisation when in 1997, the Indonesian
dictator Suharto was repaid by Nelson Mandela for funding the
ANC:/'Suharto was greeted by Mandela and 16 members of the cabinet.
Following an hour-long meeting, Mandela emerged to describe the
discussions with his "close friend" as "very fruitful". He thanked
Suharto for his financial assistance to the ANC prior to the 1994
elections. Suharto was also awarded South Africa's highest award, the
Order of Good Hope.'/ http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/15847 (The local
trade union movement, Cosatu, held an exemplary protest outside at the
time, leading the SA police to arrest 38 workers who were non-violently
demanding, "end Suharto's genocide" and "end union bashing now".)
How much taxpayer funding did Burnham give away to the ANC? According to
his website, it wasn't even all that much: /"In his bold, characteristic
way, he secured parliamentary approval to commit funds from Guyana's
Treasury to aid the African freedom fighters: an initial, annual
disbursement of US$50,000 and, subsequently, US$100,000 was given to the
African National Congress at a time when Guyana could hardly afford it.
In 1981, when Guyana hosted a Forum on the Liberation of Southern
Africa, President Burnham increased financial assistance to the African
Liberation Movement to the amount of US$250,000."
But we've also been educated in new ways through this fiasco, including
getting a better understanding of how 'talk left (to) walk right' works
in places like Guyana, given that Burnham called himself a socialist
while generating a brutal crony-capitalist political economy.
And in terms of resistance, I've been surprised that not only within the
beleaguered independent left here, but more generally - e.g. in two
mainstream websites below, SABroadcastingCorporation and the
centre-right politicswebs.co.za - you'll find revulsion, with no
official defense of Burnham that I can see so far... so there's no
debate, as such; there's just a sense that yet again, SA's ruling party
is committing a reactionary act with no justification.
Decision to confer OT Award to Forbes Burnham sparks controversy
Tuesday 23 April 2013 09:42
ANALYSIS: Tula Dlamini, SABC News Research
As Director-General in The Presidency, Dr Cassius Lubisi, in his
capacity as the Chancellor of the National Orders, unveiled the nominees
for the National Orders for this year in Pretoria, controversy brewed on
the criteria used to award the highest award that a country, through its
President, bestows on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals.
Alarm bells first rang after the Caribbean press reported that late
former executive President of Guyana, Linden Forbes Burnham would be one
of the recipients to be conferred posthumously with the prestigious
Oliver Tambo Award. According to the report "Roxane Van West Charles,
his daughter will be traveling to Johannesburg to accept the award. She
will be accompanied by her sister Dr Francesca Onu and her husband, Dr
Richard Van West Charles".
"The decision spells dissension from the generation of scholars and
political activists who blame Burnham for the murder of Dr. Walter
Rodney," notes Prof. Horace Campbell, author and Pan Africanism
professor at Syracuse University.
"The decision deepens the questions about the present leadership of the
ANC," Prof. Campbell said.
But who was Walter Rodney and what did he stand for? It is perhaps
enough to say Rodney was a young academic and political activist who
galvanized African and India workers in Guyana and the entire Caribbean
region in the most moving way over a short period of a few years. When
the Government of Guyana, through its representative on the Board of
Governors, revoked the appointment of Dr. Rodney to a teaching position
at the University of Guyana, leading periodicals and organizations in
the Caribbean and other parts of the world expressed their abhorrence at
the revocation. Renowned thinker, Prof. Ali Mazurui, who was a
self-confessed ideological adversary of Dr. Rodney during his stint at
the University of Dar-es-Salaam in East Africa in the 1970s, wrote to
the Guyanese government concerning the decision and expressed what he
termed "bewilderment and concern," given "Dr. Rodney's intellectual
gifts as a scholar".
Literary works authored by Dr. Walter Rodney include: How Europe
Underdeveloped Africa; North Atlantic Slave Trade; and the Groundings
With My Brothers.
Upon his assassination, Rodney was accorded the largest funeral ever
seen in the history of Guyana. The international community condemned his
murder. Countries such as Grenada and Cuba declared days of national
mourning for a man who never held political power in his country.
Walter Rodney was only thirty-eight years when he was murdered on 13
June, 1980. Forbes Burnham was the Executive President of Guyana at the
time. In a speech at the Square of the Revolution, following a Congress
of his party, Burnham announced that his party's steel was sharper. He
urged the leaders of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) to which Rodney
belonged to "make their wills".
Thus, when Walter Rodney died, allegedly at the hands of an operative of
the local military, many concluded this was not an isolated killing.
According to Prof. Campbell, Walter Rodney was with his brother Donald
Rodney who survived. "Donald told the world that the bomb that
assassinated Walter Rodney was placed by Gregory Smith...an agent from
the Guyanese Defense force."
"The decision spells dissension from the generation of scholars and
political activists who blame Burnham for the murder of Dr. Walter
Prof. Campbell is not the only one who questions why then President
Burnham failed to constitute an inquiry into the assassination, in spite
of repeated calls to do so; and the fact that he allowed the alleged
assassin to leave Guyana to the colonial territory of Cayenne where he
died after more than twenty years.
"Since the assassination of Rodney, the Burnham forces in the Caribbean
have been working very hard to discredit the ideas and the lessons of
the life of Walter Rodney," laments Prof. Campbell.
The South African government says the late Burnham deserves the Gold
Oliver Tambo Award for his dedication to the liberation of his country,
Guyana, as well as the African continent. The official statement adds
that Burnham established diplomatic relations with many African
countries and expressed solidarity with the liberation movement and
freedom fighters in South Africa...an act of solidarity with the leaders
of the ANC that strengthened relations between Guyana and South Africa.
Prof. Campbell disagrees with this notion of "late President Burnham the
liberator", citing the fact that "at the time of the global opposition
to apartheid, most leaders, even Mobutu Sese Seko of then-Zaire mouthed
anti-colonial statements while supporting French and US colonialism.
Burnham was the same. While he was publicly praising anti-colonialism in
Africa, he was collaborating with French colonialism in the Caribbean.
The closeness of relationship was such that the Burnham government could
find refuge for the killer of Walter Rodney in a French colonial
territory of Cayenne".
Regardless of the merits or de-merits of the fore-going positions, it is
within reason to support those who are calling for a serious debate on
these issues. For example, the SA government must explain what rationale
is there for the honour to be given to Burnham when it has never been
given to Julius Nyerere? These are the questions that Prof. Campbell and
many in the Pan Africanist fold are asking.
*Tula Dlamini is a senior researcher with SABC News Research.*
Why on earth are we honouring the late Linden Forbes Burnham?
26 April 2013
Dinga Nkhwashu says the late Guyanese President was a murderous despot
*MUCH ADO ABOUT CONFERRING OF NATIONAL ORDERS- THE COMPANIONS OF OR
TAMBO AWARD TO LINDEN FORBES SAMPSON BURNHAM OF GUYANA*
On the 22nd of April 2013 and on the 19th instalment of the ANC
government's award of national orders, Dr. Cassius Lubisi, the Director
General in the Presidency announced the names of this year's awardees of
the various national orders,
He was making this announcement in his capacity as the Chancellor of
National Orders of the Republic of South Africa in keeping with
tradition to award such orders during April, Freedom month. Most
awardees are indeed familiar names and local sport, academic, scientific
and other heroes including Dr. Malekgapuru Makgoba, Vusi Mahlasela, Chad
Le Clos and others,
However it was the appearance of one specific names that got people in
an international debate about how some recipients of these awards are
chosen. The name in question is that of one Linden Forbes Sampson
Burnham who got the posthumous award, the Order of the Companion of OR
Those of you who are now asking who on earth is that deserves a quick
rundown on who he is:
The late President Burnham is the former President of present Guyana, a
small Caribbean state. Not only was he President but he also held the
following positions during his leadership reign-
1. Premier of British Guiana later Guyana from 1964 to 1966,
2. Prime Minister of Guyana from 1966 to 1980,
3. Finally 1980 to 1985 he was President until he died on the 06th
August 1985 on an operating table while receiving anesthetic for a
According to Wikipedia and other sources his reign was characterized by
a. Enactment of oppressive and draconian legislation giving police power
to wantonly violate the basic human rights of citizens including
arbitrary searches, seizures and arrests,
b. vote rigging and election fraud,
c. being a strong man of sorts,
d. Promotion of a police state,
e. declaration of Guyana as a "Socialist Cooperative Republic" and
designating himself as "the Comrade Leader". Shame on those of you who
thought Gaddafi was the only one who had this kind of self affection
when he was called "Brother Leader",
f. harassment and abuse of foreign election observers during elections,
g. Fraudulent rigging of a referendum that resulted in him being
bestowed or rather him bestowing himself the new position, after the
Constitution was amended at his behest, of Executive President. It was
at this time that he apparently conferred on himself supreme powers over
all constitutional institutions,
h. supporting,aiding and abetting fugitives and outlaws like the House
of Israel and its fugitive American leader, one David Hill,
i. Presiding over rolling power outages or black outs,
j. arranging or hiring thugs to beat up critics of his government
including opposition leaders,
k. political repression,
l. Murder of opposition leaders like Edward Dublin, Ohene Koamanand and
Dr. Walter Rodney and other atrocities,
Now these national orders are supposed to be awarded to patriots (South
Africans) and friends of the South African government who subscribes and
promotes the values enshrined in our Constitution or at least aligned to
them including freedom and justice,
According to Dr. Lubisi's press release the awards recognize, in so far
as foreign nationals are concerned, "imminent foreign nationals and
foreign dignitaries for their friendship shown to South Africa". With
the risk of stating the obvious these awards, introduced at the dawn of
democratic dispensation under the ANC government, will invariably honor
those people that the organization feels made some or other kind of
contribution to freedom, equality, justice and other values that it
aspires to and hold dear.
The crux of the international debate led mainly by Professor Horace
Campbell (see here
about the decision to posthumously award the Order of the Companions of
OR Tambo to the late President Burnham is that, with his atrocious
governance record neither does he deserve the award nor did he subscribe
to the values of the awards and what OR Tambo stood for.
Professor Campbell's gripe centers around President Burnham's alleged
involvement or at the very least his complicity in the assassination of
Dr. Walter Rodney, an eminent leading Guyanese intellectual who was
murdered by a thug called Gregory Smith,.
Not only was President accused of involvement in the murder he is
further accused of being an accessory after the fact (in South African
legal parlance) in that he apparently allowed the murderer to flee
Guyana to the French island of Cayenne and further refused to appoint a
commission of enquiry into the assassination.
He is further being accused of being part of a group of people who set
about to systematically discredit Dr. Rodney's philosophy and thinking.
For those of us who, during the apartheid years and growing up, imbibed,
as part of our political education the teachings and the philosophy of
Dr. Rodney, this is more than a worrying accusation. It is like awarding
the apartheid South Africa's leaders for killing Steve Biko.
President Burnham is being awarded the Order of the Companions of OR
Tambo for "his dedication for the liberation of his country as well as
the African continent and his expression of solidarity with liberation
movements and freedom fighters in South Africa". If that is the criteria
then Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga ( Mobutu of the then
Zaire and now DRC) will be the next recipient of this award.
Those who follow history will tell you that President Burnham was no
Barry White( he did not practice what he preached) and was, as some
argue, a French stooge cut in the same cloth as Mobutu.
He therefore does not deserve the award or even to be associated with
the values of our freedom, constitution and what Freedom Day in South
Africa stand for.
/The writer is a member of the ANC and writes in his personal capacity.
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