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Professor Walter Rodney: Writings

The life and times of Walter Rodney

Book Review

The World Turned Upside Down: Rodney’s 1972 masterpiece


Leo Zeilig

"One of the striking features about Rodney’s text is its sheer audacity. The book is a breathless journey across the continent, over a period of five hundred years – moving effortlessly from country to country, region to region, providing both nuanced analysis and general overview. The idea of such a volume and confidence to undertake and complete it, could have only come from someone of Rodney’s intellectual strength and self-assurance."


Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE)

November 10, 2020 


A history of the Guyanese working people, 1881-1905 by Walter Rodney


George Lamming (p.xxv)

"He worked on the assumption that men deserved to be liberated from those hostile forms of ownership that are based exclusively on the principle of material self-interest that negate the fundamental purpose of work.  At the deepest levels of a man’s being it cannot make sense that he should voluntarily labor for those whose style of thinking declares them to be his enemies and whose triumph in the management of human affairs remains a persistent threat to the dignity of his person."


Rodney Writes

“The revolution is made by ordinary people, not by angles, made by people from all walks of life, and more particularly by the working class who are in the majority.”
 Sign of the times: Rodney’s last speech 6/6/80  p. 6.


“We in the Working People’s Alliance wish to draw your attention to the fact that the treason charges represent a new level in the attack against the Guyanese people.”

Sign of the times: Rodney’s last speech 6/6/80 p. 11.


“Our will to struggle has not in any way been lessened; on the contrary, today we feel stronger than ever, we feel more confident than ever, not simply in our own ability and capacity, because that would be incorrect.  We feel more confident because of the demonstrated ability and capacity of the people as a whole.” 

Sign of the times: Rodney’s last speech 6/6/80  p. 5.


“Above all, capitalism has intensified its own political contradictions in trying to subjugate nations and continents outside of Europe so that workers and peasants in ever part of the globe have become self-conscious and are determined to take their destiny into their own hands.”

 How Europe underdeveloped Africa  p. 18.

Rodney Writes

“Very often, though the Portuguese and other Europeans objected to or offended against African custom, they looked to this same customary law for their own protection.” 

A history of the Upper Guiena Coast  p.87.


“The Atlantic slave trade was deliberately selective in its impact on the society of the Upper Guinea Coast, with the ruling class protecting itself, while helping the Europeans to exploit the common people.”

A history of the Upper Guiena Coast  p.117


“Although Mande pressure on the coastlands in the second half of the eighteenth century was partly due to refugees from the Jihad, Islam made great inroads among the coastal ruling class at this period."

A history of the Upper Guiena Coast  p.233.


“From the standpoint of imperial history, there was nothing splendid or exciting about the years 1880-1905, as far as the West Indies were concerned.  The United States was then staking its claim to Puerto Rico and Cuba; but for Britain and France, the Caribbean had outlived its usefulness in the elaboration of the world capitalist system.” 

History of the Guyanese working people 1881-1905  p. 217