The National Archives, located on Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown

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…Coalition Gov’t in the move to correct wrong

DESPITE announcing a change in the name of the National Archives to honour the late Dr Walter Rodney, the former administration, PPP, had refused to gazette the change and government assured the nation, on Thursday, that it would right the wrong.
Director General (DG) of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, said the government will have to correct another wrong by the former administration that has, over the last few days, caused some uneasiness in society. Recent news of the removal of the name of the late Working People’s Alliance (WPA) founding member, Dr Walter Rodney, from the National Archives of Guyana, had caused some displeasure. However, Harmon said: “it is our intention to correct that.”

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He explained at a post-cabinet news conference that the previous government, which made the name change from the “National Archives of Guyana” to the “Walter Rodney Archives” failed to follow the legal course and have the change gazetted. Since the issue came to the fore, members of the opposition have been taking to the pages of local newspapers. However, the DG said the opposition has been trying to drive a wedge between the parties of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

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“Our partnership in which the WPA is an active and valued member is as strong as it was when it first started. We are engaging the WPA and we will address that matter,” the DG insisted.

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“The main idea between doing that and calling for a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) weeks before the last general elections, was an attempt to drive a wedge between the Working People’s Alliance and the other parties of the A Partnership for National Unity,” he added. As a temporary measure, the DG related that the sign has been removed. He said the government will do all that is necessary to ensure that the law is observed, “and we will put up the appropriate sign once that is done.” “So, there is no disrespect to the legacy of Dr Rodney. These are people who are legends in our own country and therefore there is no disrespect to anybody. We are about preserving things.” The National Archives of Guyana is the legal depository for official records and local newspaper publications in Guyana.
Cultural activist and writer, Barrington Braithwaite, in a letter to the editor, said he attended two days of a very meaningful three-day UNESCO conference on National Cultural Policy Consultations, some two months ago, with representatives from the Culture Ministry, National Archives, National Trust and Artist/s from every discipline. He said at the forum the question of the National Archives versus the Walter Rodney name presence came up in deliberations by UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Policy Presenter Mr Sydney Bartley on the ad hoc naming of places that are not then gazetted. Braithwaite said he learnt like everyone else that this was the situation between Walter Rodney’s name and the National Archives. “As all the facts determine, this was as much hypocritical propaganda as was the PPP’s inquiry into Walter’s Death. There was never an attempt to truly honour his heritage to this country, but as usual to make a political masquerade of everything through cluelessness, insincerity or as a political plaything. Without the legal framework no legitimate transfer of finances via a Grant, Licence or sponsorship towards any expression that includes Walter Rodney is safe and accountable, if not gazetted it is a meaningless poster, an act of disrespect,” Braithwaite said.

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Only recently the party of Rodney said in a statement that it was fed up with the cheap criticisms of it on the issue of Dr. Walter Rodney and the WPA’s membership of the APNU and the APNU+AFC Coalition. “WPA frowns on those who have sought to use Rodney’s name for cheap political gains. Rodney has, in death, become a plaything for a group of political hypocrites. Many who today sing praises to Walter Rodney never joined his cause when he was alive or in the difficult period following his assassination.” The party said some had dismissed him as an adventurist while others taunted him as an “ultra-leftist and a “Black Intellectual.” According to the WPA, the then leader of the PPP, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, went as far as telling supporters that Rodney promised Guyana a Christmas present, but they instead got his body on a platter. “These same people today maliciously try to tie WPA’s membership of the APNU and the APNU+AFC government to a fictitious betrayal of Walter Rodney and our party’s core principles. They have made that line part of their narrative aimed at breaking up the coalition.”

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he National Archives, located on Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown

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