Ranny Gbatu, a son of Nimba whose demise in a tragic accident on March 13 brought shock and grief upon the commercial city of Ganta, was on Saturday, March 27 laid to rest with a huge number of prominent Nimbaians including lawmakers, academicians and partisans of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) attending.
For the second time in 16 years, at least, the Senator and political godfather of the county, Prince Y. Johnson, attended the funeral of Gbatu and made substantial contributions of over 40 bags of rice, a big bull and US$500.00, something that left on many minds how prominent and influential Ranny Gbatu was in Nimba County. His first presence was made during the internment of Dr. Joseph D.Z. Korto, though he and the late Korto at certain point in time had bitter exchanges as it may be the case with many other Nimbaians.
The People Liberation Party (PLP) chaired by Wilmot Paye, former Chairman of the Unity Party and son of Nimba, presented L$150,000 to the family.
Superintendent Nelson Korquio and the local county leadership, former superintendents Fong Zuagele and Christiana Dagadu, Deputy MOE Minister Moses Duopu (also Nimbaian), Judge Yarmie Quiqui Gbeinsay were among those attending the funeral service, which was held at one of the local Methodist churches in Ganta.
There were also students and many other elderly men and women at the funeral, many of who profusely wept for the early demise of their son and Principal they claim was conscious of their welfare. “Oh! Saye Bigboy. Why leave us so soon. You are one person who will play with us older women of the age of your mother. Who will lift us up when we are down?” cried an elderly woman at the front of the Borpoayee Methodist Church during the funeral.
As an extrovertic young man, Ranny would always draw attention to himself with his bold and fearless talks, and was quick to go in confrontation with people but also quick to reconcile.
He was the Principal of the Francis Maweah Public School, formerly Child Frinedly School. Along side the pain associated with his early death is the fact that Ranny Gbatu, unlike many others who felt relaxed not to pursue education after the Liberian civil war, attended the Cuttington University and earned his Bachelor degree in Education. He then extended to Furah Bay in Sierra Leone where in earned Master in Education with emphasis in Curriculum Development.
In his less than five-year stewardship at the Francis Maweah Public School as Principal, Mr. Gbatu gained attraction in the academic arena as a strict person who could not compromise examination malpractice. He will also be remembered by his teachers for his selfless humanitarian service to them especially last year when he took his personal cash to purchase several bags of rice upon the outbreak of COVID-19 to give his striving teachers who could not receive salaries from the government at the time of the outbreak.
As journalists are always delighted in people who provide them information and facts, the media community in Ganta and Nimba at large also regrets the death of Mr. Gbatu who could not draw back from addressing issues of community concern in the media.
His tragic death on March 13 brought Ganta to a standstill, with tributes pouring from all walk of life on social Media and community radio stations across the county.
His funeral rite, which began on Friday, March 26 locked down Ganta, with residents lining in the streets bidding him farewell in tears and viewing his remains in the transparent coffin.
His was taken to the Francis Maweah High School for a hour, where the local education authority pays tributes and removed to his home for a night of wake keeping.
His funeral was attended by Senator Prince Johnson and other members of Nimba Legislative Caucus, including Rep. Roger Domah and Nimba Senator Elect Jeremiah Kpan Koung.
The late Gbatu was one of the founding members of the Congress of Democratic Change and he served as the first chairperson for the Nimba for almost 10yr. He later defected to the Unity Party in 2017, though his loyalty to the CDC could not wither away.
From the onset of his death, CDC Chair Mr. Mulbal Murlu paid tribute to the family, followed by some local chairpersons, representing Bong, Cape Mount and Margibi. However, at the funeral service no CDC hierarchy was seen, although the local CDCians gave tributes and marched with the body for internment.
The late Ranny S. Gbatu was on February 4, 1970 in Ganta. He attended several schools in Nimba and later graduated at the Ganta United Methodist School.
He is survived by his mother and siblings including Beatrice Ranny of UMU and other younger ones, who are still at the high school level.
He was laid to rest at his family cemetery in Pledehyee, a village near Nengbein Town along the Gbarnga highway.