Thursday –– September 3, 2015 –– is the fifth anniversary of the horrific Campus Trendz criminal tragedy that took the lives of six beautiful young daughters of our nation: Tiffany Harding, Kelly-Ann Welch, Kellishaw Ollivierre, Nikkita Belgrave, Pearl Cornelius and Shanna Griffith. And once again, the September 3rd Foundation will be undertaking the responsibility of staging a national commemoration of this tragic, never-to-be-forgotten event.
Just as in previous years, the commemoration will take the form of a National Minute of Silence commencing at noon, with relatives of the six victims of the Campus Trendz tragedy and other members of the September 3rd Foundation participating from the central and highly symbolic location of National Heroes Square in Bridgetown.
In fact, the observance of the Minute Of Silence at the National Heroes Square location will take place within the context of a solemn commemorative ceremony that will commence at 11 a.m.
The ceremony will feature performances of anti-violence songs by such artistes as Adonijah, Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Choir, and the duo of Khalid And Najuma, as well as messages of inspiration and brotherhood by Leisel Daisley of the SAVE Foundation and Myrna Belgrave of the Raj Yoga Centre, and prayers for the nation by Rev. Onkphra Wells.
Additionally, a special feature of the ceremony will be the delivery of an In Memoriam Roll Call of the names of all Barbadians who lost their lives to violent crime over the past 12 months, and a reading of short biographies of the six young ladies who perished in the Campus Trendz arson on that fateful evening of Friday, September 3, 2010.
Some Barbadians have queried the need to stage this annual commemoration, while others have wondered why the public spirited citizens who established the September 3rd Foundation in the aftermath of the Campus Trendz tragedy are so insistent on their focus on this particular tragedy. And since I am a member, and perhaps the chief coordinator of the September 3rd Foundation, I will undertake the duty to address these two questions.
First of all, it is important to note that our annual commemoration is done with the blessing, consent and involvement of the relatives of the victims of the Campus Trendz tragedy!
It is also important to note that the act of public commemoration brings comfort to the grieving relatives of the victims of a tragedy, and reassures them that their loved ones have not been forgotten. Indeed, it is instructive to note that decades after World War I and World War II we still stage annual Memorial Day ceremonies in honour of our war dead!
The members of the September 3rd Foundation would, however, like to explain that there is a special additional reason why we make the effort every year to commemorate the Campus Trendz tragedy.
You see, we are very much aware that our country –– Barbados –– has a serious and growing problem of violent crime! And we are convinced that if Barbados is to come to terms with and defuse this tragic phenomenon, someone, or some institution, will have to find a way to penetrate the psyche and consciousness of our people with a powerful anti-crime and pro-brotherhood message.
The horrific Campus Trendz tragedy –– in which the lives of six totally blameless and innocent young women were simultaneously destroyed by an act of criminal violence –– is, in our opinion, the tragedy that has the greatest potential to impact upon the individual and collective consciences of our people.
Indeed, we –– as a nation –– better hope that the Campus Trendz tragedy is able to make such an impact on the consciousness of our people, for if it is not able to do so, what else will?
When we –– the members of the September 3rd Foundation –– call upon the entire Barbadian population to stop whatever they may be doing at noon every September 3 and to engage in a Minute Of Silence, we are calling upon them to reflect not only on the six victims of the Campus Trendz tragedy, but on the plight of all victims of violent crime in Barbados and on the plight of their families.
The annual National Minute Of Silence is an opportunity for the victims of crime to emerge from the aura of invisibility in which we often shroud them, and to send a powerful message to the entire nation.
It is a message that forces us to become aware of the tragic and unnecessary loss, pain and anguish that acts of violent crime cause.
It is also a message that is designed to cause us to honestly consider whether and in what ways we ourselves may be wittingly or unwittingly contributing to a social climate in which respect
for the preciousness of each human life is subverted.
And we hope that it will be a message that will force each of us to give some thought as to how we can –– in a concrete and practical way –– be part of the solution to this tragic social problem.
It is with these intentions in mind that we in the September 3rd Foundation ask Barbadians to join with us at our solemn ceremony at National Heroes Square on Thursday, September 3, 2015,
commencing at 11 a.m. Or, if they are unable to be there with us in the flesh, to simply pause wherever they may be at noon and to engage in a minute of quiet
and prayerful reflection.
(David Comissiong, attorney-at-law, is coordinator of the September 3rd Foundation.)