RAVINDRA Ramrattan was remembered at his funeral yesterday as a friend, inspiration, humble hero and international academic whose dream was to end poverty.
Several local and foreign dignitaries turned out yesterday to pay their last respects to Ramrattan, who was killed two weeks ago in a terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Among the mourners: President Anthony Carmona, acting Prime Minister Roodal Moonilal, House Speaker Wade Mark, British High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago Arthur Snell and several other Cabinet ministers, as well as Ramrattan’s colleagues with whom he worked in Kenya.
Two Saturdays ago, Ramrattan, 31, was at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, when the attack happened. He hid in a supermarket and sent text messages out to friends that he was safe. However, the following day, his body was discovered in a morgue. Ramrattan was one of about 70 people killed in the attack.
Snell expressed gratitude on behalf of the British government for Ramrattan’s work in Kenya with Financial Sector Deepening, where he was employed as a research economist and head of Branchless Banking.
Snell said: “It will be no surprise that his work was at the cutting edge of international development. Our Secretary of State for International Development, the Right Honourable Justine Greening, has written to the Ramrattan family to offer her condolences on behalf of the British government.
“Ravi’s life and more than 70 others who died in the horrific attack in Nairobi is a tragedy that seems random, senseless and cruel. And the British government continues to work closely with the Kenyan authorities to unravel the events and identify those responsible.”
One of Ramrattan’s colleagues, Sean Smith, said while the scholar was widely known in Trinidad for his winning of the President’s Medal for academic excellence, he never told any of his foreign friends of his accomplishments.
“We his friends abroad never knew him as the winner of the President’s Medal award. This is because his humility is so great he ever hardly told anyone about it. That is not to say that everyone knew how smart he was,” said Smith.
Another of his friends, Aleem Ahamad, who accompanied the body when it was flown from Kenya on Saturday, said Ramrattan had worked with leading world economists as he went on his mission “to prove what works and what does not work in development”.
“To do that is ever difficult. It requires somebody with a brilliant mind, persistence and a big heart,” said Smith.
“Very specifically, in Mumias (Kenya) in the sugar factory, Ravi was trying to adjust a problem that millions of farmers around the world face today. A group of us were working specifically on an intervention to enable farmers to receive their income throughout the year.
“If Ravi’s work was able to show this, it would have had impact not only on the 70,000 farmers in Mumias, but this work could spread around the world to the millions and millions of farming families. And Ravi’s work was to address this problem. More importantly, he inspired us all to do the same.”
Smith said Ramrattan knew the causes of violence and extremism were a result of a lack of opportunities.
“He devoted his life to creating more opportunities, to helping others achieve their dreams,” said Smith.
Officiating pundit Amar Seepersad said Ramrattan had made his family proud from the day he was born.
Seepersad said Ramrattan, a black-belt in karate, “would not have gone down without a fight when terrorists held the mall under siege in Nairobi”.
“Suppose Ravi, barehanded, had challenged them with weapons. He would not have gone down without a fight. Everyone of us should be proud of Ravi. All the members of family is proud of his. Today we say Ravi is our hero,” said Seepersad.
Ramrattan’s siblings, Reshma and Rajiv Ramrattan, fondly remembered his love for movies, cricket and karate. His body was cremated at the Waterloo cremation site.