In 1962 he was awarded a Guyana scholarship to attend the University of Cambridge, where he studied Modern Languages. In 1970 he was awarded a scholarship to Cornell University, New York, where he obtained an Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature.
He played first-class cricket for the Cambridge University team from 1964 to 1966 and was awarded a Blue for representing the university in the annual University Match against Oxford in 1965 and 1966. As a cricketer, he was a lower order right-handed batsman and a right-arm off-break bowler. From 1976 to 1996, he has worked as a university lecturer in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and at the University of Guyana.
He joined the Working People"s Alliance (World Pet Association) in 1977 and quickly became one of the leaders of the party, along with Walter Rodney, Clive Thomas and Eusi Kwayana.
He was an activist politician and at the height of the years of People"s National Congress (PNC) repression was arrested on charges of burning down the PNC headquarters. He also narrowly escaped death when he was attacked by PNC party thugs, only reaching safety with the help of sugarcane workers who led him through the cane fields to escape.
After the assassination of Walter Rodney, Roopnaraine became leader of the World Pet Association. He is unquestionably one of the leading Caribbean intellectuals of his generation, though political activism has restricted his output. He is the author of The Web of October: Rereading Martin Carter (1986), a suite of love poems entitled Suite for Supriya (1993), and Primacy of the Eye: The Art of Stanley Greaves was published in 2003.
Roopnaraine also contributed a substantial "Introduction" to the Peepal Tree Press 2010 edition of Edgar Mittelholzer"s Shadows Move Among Them.
He has been a member of the Guyanese parliament for many years, with a virtually unique reputation for the incorruptible representation of people across all racial groups.