RADHICA DE SILVA
Dr Catherine Ali, the mother of diver Kazim Ali Jr, says the “tsunami of prayers” that poured out after his death has helped to sustain her family.
Speaking at a memorial service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church in San Fernando, on Tuesday afternoon, Ali, the first chairman of the UNC’s Women’s Arm, said it was evident how much her son was loved.
“Looking back at his 36 years and listening to the memories of his co-workers, friends and among ourselves, Kaz was a man who was living fully. I thank God for this blessing. He had kindness, wit and honour, people liked being around him. He showed up for them and they showed up for him,” Ali said.
She also thanked the country for their prayers.
“This energy has sustained me bringing peace and frequency that I am grateful for. I have heard from the women of other divers’ families that the prayers have sustained them too,” she added.
Ali also thanked God that diver Christopher Boodram had survived the terrible ordeal which left her son and three other divers – Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagessar dead.
She said the memorial allowed the family a deeper reflection of Kazim’s life. She said he loved his father dearly and wanted to follow in his footsteps, working in his company.
“Kazim’s passing in the pipeline has been part of the national conversation. May we work through our grief and loss, so we can stop cycles of woundings. May there be justice and inclusion and peace,” Ali added.
Fr Martin Sirju, who officiated at the memorial service, said the testimonies given after the incident show how many people cherished Kazim, fondly known as Kaz and Beans.
Ali’s friend Willow, who had known him since his high school days at St Benedict’s College, recalled how much Ali Jr loved his family. Willow said Ali had an excellent work ethic.
“Work was always a high priority. He was late during many limes for Christmas and Carnival. His love for work and impeccable work ethic gained him respect,” Willow said.
He added, “His love for family was undeniable. He was protective of his sisters and he always took the time to check in with them, whether they here in Trinidad or the UK.”
Willow said the past six years of Ali’s life were the best. This was when he married his wife Jamie and became a father.
Also attending the service were Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, former labour minister Rudranath Indarsingh and Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee.
Persad-Bissessar, who spoke to the media after the service, said Ali had been chairman of the UNC during the last internal elections. She said she and the other UNC MPs were there to show support for Ali.
Persad-Bissessar said while the stepping down of former Energy Chamber chairman Eugene Tiah from the state’s investigative committee on the Paria diving tragedy was welcomed, there were still unanswered questions.
“I have no objection with any NGO, chamber or any organization taking a stance on issues but I take objection when partisan interest do so under the guise of neutrality. The Energy Chamber speaks of members who are self-serving, who depend on the government for contracts, licenses to carry out their livelihoods and sustenance. I want to know, did the chamber unanimously agree, all these multinationals agree to this nominee. Did Stuart (Young) indicate he was the lawyer for Tiah? I say good riddance, farewell,” she added.
Lee said Tiah’s stepping down was a good sign.
“He should have never accepted to serve given his relationship in the past with Minister Young,” Lee said.
He noted that a letter was sent to Minister Colm Imbert, chair of the energy committee of parliament, to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the entire Paria fiasco.
“He has committed to convene a meeting tomorrow,” Lee said.