TRINIDADIAN scholar, Ravindra Ramrattan, was among dozens of persons killed in a terrorist attack and siege at a Kenyan shopping mall that entered its third day yesterday.
Ramrattan, who celebrated his 30th birthday on September 2, journeyed to Nairobi, Kenya, four years ago, and was employed as a research economist at Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya, and as a consultant with the World Bank.
The response on social media to Ramrattan’s death has been emotional. Many commented on the brilliance of the man and the senselessness of his death, and others reacted with outrage over the reasons given for the attack.
Ramrattan, a past pupil of Presentation College, Chaguanas, was also pursuing his PhD in Economics. He was awarded the President Medal gold in 2002.
Several people were killed and many others held hostage in an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi where Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked.
Internal new agencies reported a military attack on the mall yesterday in an effort to take out the terrorist and save ten hostages. At least 62 people have been killed and more than 170 wounded.
It remained unclear how many gunmen and hostages were still cornered in the Westgate shopping centre last evening.
The gunmen came from “all over the world”, according to Kenya’s military chief, who added: “We are fighting global terrorism here.”
Kenyan security forces were said to be in the final stages of flushing out the Islamic extremist terrorists from the mall late yesterday.
At his home at Munroe Road, Cunupia, Ramrattan’s parents Bisnath and Parbatee, wept.
The said their son, who attained distinctions in mathematics, chemistry, physics and general paper at the Advanced Level examinations, was the family’s pride and joy, and the perfect son.
The parents said they were informed in a telephone call that their son, the first of three children, was missing on Saturday.
Parbatee Ramrattan said, “His friends in Kenya called to say he was missing. They were hanging out at the mall and there was an attack. His friends escaped and when they looked for him, he was not there. They have been updating us since then through Facebook, e-mail and telephone. We got a call last night about his death.”
Ramrattan, a public servant, said the last time she spoke with her son was on his birthday. “But we kept in touch through e-mail,” she said.
Ramrattan said her son returned home for six weeks in June last year.
His father, contract farmer Bisnath Ramrattan, said his son was the most loving, humble, simple person. But he loved to take risks.
“He could have stayed in England and pursue his studies. He was also accepted to a university in Canada. But he opted to go to Kenya. He loved nature and I think that is what attracted him to Kenya,” he said.
Ramrattan said his son was a high achiever and was never disobedient. “He was always trying to move up the corporate ladder,” he said.
Ramrattan said his family was in contact with the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate in Nigeria. “We have someone there making arrangements for us. The body would be flown to Trinidad, where we will have a funeral for him. The person handling this for us is very efficient so we expect to have the body here soon,” he said.
Relatives and friends gathered at the family’s home yesterday. Among those extending condolences to the Ramrattans was Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha secretary general, Satnarayan Maharaj.
Maharaj said, “I knew the relatives of the young man. I got the news this morning and I came to extend condolences to the family. It is unfortunate that one of our brilliant minds have to go this way.”
Presentation College, Chaguanas, remembered Ramrattan yesterday. The teachers and pupils were informed of his passing during the school’s morning assembly, when a moment of silence was observed in his memory.
Principal Gary Ribeiro said Ramrattan’s photograph was placed on the school’s corridor and the school’s flag was flown at half-mast.
“He was awarded the President’s medal in 2002 and I came to the school in 2010. So I don’t really know him, but teachers here are talking about this young man,” he said.
A Facebook page was created in memory of Ravindra Ramrattan yesterday.
An invitation was extended to Ramrattan’s friends and relatives to attend a service at the Buddhist Temple in Nairobi last evening. The service was held to remember Ramrattan “and his incredible presence in our lives”.