“Whatever attempts are made to envelope his death in confusion and surround it with controversy, I doubt that it has brought solace to those who saw his presence and his preachings on the political scene as threat to their political survival,” Sir Richard was quoted as saying by the Barbados Advocate at a memorial service for Rodney.
At that service held at the Ursuline Convent on that Caribbean island, he recalled meeting Rodney for the first time at Jamaica’s Mona Campus during the 1962-1963 academic year. Hailing the renowned historian for his intellectual prowess, Cheltenham also credited him with using historical knowledge for effective mass mobilization and advocating social change.
The surfacing of his comments in a June 13,1980 article published in the Barbados Advocate has since triggered sharp criticism by the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) which has so far been repeatedly blamed by witnesses for killing Rodney and beating and harassing political opponents like those in his Working Peoples Alliance political party. “It is clear from the report in the Advocate News, that Sir Richard Cheltenham not only knew Dr. Walter Rodney, but was an admirer and was inspired by him.”
“The People’s National Congress Reform feels that prior disclosure of such an acquaintance, though not impugning the Chairman’s impartiality, could have forestalled public misperceptions which unavoidably and unfortunately, albeit unjustifiably, are now not unlikely to arise,” said that party.
Sir Richard earlier Wednesday declined to grant the media interviews on the issue and instead he promised to issue a statement later on the matter.