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Hold on tight for a revealing journey into the history of leftist struggles in the Global South in the fifth episode of the newly relaunched Verso Podcast. This week Kevin Ochieng Okoth and Robin D.G. Kelley join Eleanor Penny to discuss the radical life and groundbreaking work of Guyanese historian, revolutionary, and guerrilla intellectual, Walter Rodney, who was assassinated 43 years ago this week.
Kevin Ochieng Okoth is a writer and researcher. He is part of the Salvage Editorial Collective and is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books. He holds an MPhil in Political Theory from the University of Oxford and regularly participates in conferences, speaking on themes related to anti-imperialism and twentieth century anti-colonial movements. He is a founding editor of Nommo Mag, and author of the upcoming Red Africa: Reclaiming Revolutionary Black Politics, set to be published this October with Verso Books.
Robin D.G. Kelley is an academic and Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA. His work has explored the history of social movements in the US, the African diaspora, and Black intellectuals, among other things. His writing has appeared in many professional journals and general publications, and he is the author of an impressive collection of books, including Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, and Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times. He is also the co-editor of The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World, a posthumously published work of Walter Rodney’s.
In this episode, Kelley and Okoth unpack the political landscape within which Rodney’s work was produced, comparing the conditions of struggle he faced which ultimately led to his assassination at the hands of Guyana’s then-leader, Forbes Burnham, to the geo-political situation we find ourselves in now. They consider how prescient much of his work was, whilst reflecting on the necessity of taking up and developing these lines thought of today.
They also address the importance not allowing either his Marxism, nor his Pan-Africanism, to be excised from his legacy, as well as Rodney’s work as a remarkable educator, and how his pedagogy consistently involved co-intentional exchange and dialogue between groups - he truly sought to learn as much as he imparted to others.
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