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#1 Aug 22, 2019 11:11 am

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Children of the (armchair) Revolution

Mona Campus, UWI, August 1972; the charismatic Michael Manley had just swept the socialist People’s National Party into power, ushering in a prolonged radical phase in the island’s political history. New ideas were taking root and I was at the right stage (young, impressionable and stupid!), to catch a ride on these exciting winds of change.

All our lecturers were socialist firebrands like Dr. Trevor Monroe, who gave brilliant lectures dissecting colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism and the weaknesses of our post-colonial governments; and George Beckford (B-Beck) and his plantation economy. Trevor Monroe moved out of the lecture theatre and onto the streets, organizing the University workers into the University and Allied Workers Union. However when he tried to take on the established (and corrupt) waterfront unions he got a harsh lesson in the realpolitik of union politics when he got the shit kicked out of him on the docks. There was also the brilliant economist Norman Girvan, socialists to a man.

Our bible was Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”; our heroes were Nkrumah, Fanon and of course Castro. We followed the anti-apartheid struggles in southern Africa; went to giant rallies at the National Stadium to welcome African freedom fighters Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere. We were the children of the (armchair) revolution.

And, in addition to all that serious world-changing stuff, we also managed to have a helluva lot of plain FUN at university!

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