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A Classic for all time
am 26. Februar 2000
The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality.When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both a biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney's proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state. The comparative examples used from various societies within Africa and beyond to support forcefully and assertively his thereotical claim shows a well researched critical mind at work. The book relates that the reality of underdevelopment can only be tied to two events, namely European colonialism and the capitalist orgy for profit, through the use of cheap labor (slavery) and through capitalist exploitation of the labor through the marketing and importation of African cash crop resources to Europe and the New World. Critically, there are areas of Rodney's thesis that could be radically challenged but given his own family and personal orientation towards the Marxist worldview and workers movement, one cannot deny him of his place in history as a critical scholar, simply because his reasoning might differ from our own.We must also realize that since 1972 when the book was first published a lot has changed globally. Yet we cannot negate the fact that the reactionary agents of colonial extension have reduced Africa to the state which would please their bourgeois self-interests and those of their Western mentors and patrons. There are still strifes and crises that only goes to reproduce the situation Rodney described within a circumvented form. In this way Rodney's legacy is eternal. What else can one say of a man who remained faithful to the ideal of freedom for the poor- mainly those of African descents both at home and in the diaspora- denigrated by colonial and neo-colonial establishments. For this he dearly paid for it with his life, following his bombardment by the government's reactionary forces of Guyana. It is his life testimony to the freedom of all oppressed people that gives a validity to his writings. His legacy remains with us to this day as one of the classic text explaining the causal relationship between of what happens in abstraction to what does happen in fact. A number of times we can be wrong but the insight is never lost.But that we are right and Rodney is wrong is not even the matter. We can only take a stand when we pick the book the shelf and knows exactly what he was talking about. It is a book for all, just pick one today and peruse it critically.Rodney lives eternally in this books as his other books, and in this way his spirit haunts the violent forces that create poverty and fear in the minds of the public without succeeding to halt the peoples' struggles. Aluta continua, Bon voyage!