All lenses were on cameraman Christoff Griffith on Saturday.
The man who spent almost eight years looking for the perfect shot was the centre of attention immaculately dressed in his favourite colour, maroon, lying in a casket at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium where hundreds gathered to bade him farewell.
Disciplined, respectful, kindhearted, loving and generous, were some of the words used to describe the 25-year-old Nation Newspaper photojournalist, who was one of two men killed on Monday June 22, on the grounds of the heavily wooded Bishop’s Court while executing his professional duties.
Fifty-one-year-old Glenroy James also lost his life in that vicious attack.
Saying goodbye was a sad occasion for distraught media workers, many of whom are still in disbelief that one of their own made breaking news a few weeks ago under tragic circumstances.
Griffith’s parents Sergeant Christopher Griffith and mother Sonia Griffith, remained composed, but had sad expressions fixed on their faces, as they listened to glowing tributes from those who knew their almost perfect son.
Everything came to a standstill and there was nothing but silence, for the entire 20 minutes that Sergeant Griffith eulogized his son.
With admirable strength and a crystal clear voice, the father told the story of the life of his son, whom he said is now a missing link of the tripod that kept his family standing.
He told the congregation that Christoff became a disciplined young man because it was instilled in him from a young age that he must respect his elders and his peers.
The father also spoke about the many nights his son spent playing competitive video games with his peers online, and also touched on the fact that Christoff enjoyed night outs with his close friends.
Christoff, who attended Charles F Broome Primary, and Deighton Griffith Secondary, was raised in the church, and his parents insisted that he followed sound Christian values.
He was professionally trained in beating the drums, and did so proudly at his Brittons Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church.
“As we continue to reflect on Christoff’s life, let us move past the cloudy lens that has saddened us today towards the bright flash of light that will be forever stored in our memory card. And as we heal from our loss, we will focus our love on the positive moments we share to help our emptiness become less empty. Let us cherish the memories that he has left us, looking at the black bright flashes of light that he brought to our lives,” he said.
Referring to Christoff as “our son” throughout his memorable delivery, Sergeant Griffith noted that the deceased shared a close bond with his mother, and never left home unless he told her where he was headed.
He recalled that Christoff often spent moments lying on his mother’s tummy as the two engaged in serious discussions about life and the future at their Britton’s Hill, St Michael home. Christoff and his mother’s plan to enroll in an online accounting course was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christoff also adored his younger brothers Chad and Chaquon Griffith, often giving them advice on how not to make the same mistakes he did. He protected his siblings, gave them an allowance, and took them out to celebrate their birthdays. According to Sergeant Griffith, Christoff wanted the boys to be a better man than he was.
Sharing the story on how his son got involved in photojournalism, Sergeant Griffith said when Christoff was 17-years-old he asked then Editor-in-Chief at Barbados TODAY Roy Morris, to give him a shot as a rookie in the newsroom.
Sergeant Griffith said he and Sonia were proud of how their son’s career developed and about how he focused on sharpening his skills.
The father paused for a moment, before sharing a piece of advice with his wife on how they must go forward in life without their child who they welcomed into the world on February 6, 1995.
“What can I say honey? One of the links of the tripod has left us, we will continue to support each other, love each other one day at a time, one second at a time. The pain will fade, but our memories of Christoff will forever remain.
“Memories we will cherish every moment we share; the good, the bad, and even the annoying ones. We will keep them and we will place them lovingly in the album of our hearts forever, until someday we will see our Christoff again,” he said.
Sergeant Griffith urged the media fraternity to reflect on Christoff’s achievements throughout his brief career, the fun moments they shared with him and his video recordings and pictures that made headlines.
He asked his gaming buddies to focus on his energy, laughter, and unique ways of doing things.
“To his personal friends, adopted mothers and family members, focus your memories on the flashes of his love, his kind heartedness, his smile and his warmth, his laughter, which brought joy to those who embraced him,” he said.
United Holy Church of America Elder Fitzherbert Kirton, who delivered a touching sermon titled suddenly, reminded those gathered that at any given time of their lives, they can be called to eternal rest, and that they have no control over tomorrow.
Elder Kirton said Christoff’s sudden death is testimony that life is filled with surprises, and that those he has left to mourn should prepare themselves for their call to eternal rest.
“Here is a situation where Barbados was shaken by a double murder on this particular day. But I say to you, for those who are familiar with the individuals that are involved, it is a totally different story from when you are covering a story that is not yours. Christoff came to bring information to us all; he sacrificed his time and his energy so that he can bring a clear picture for those who are not on the spot.
“So too is the case with every member of the media who dangerously at times go out there to bring information to us, sometimes even though being disrespected, not appreciated, and even targeted. However, this evening, it came to a sudden stop for Christoff for when we may say it was peace and safety then cometh sudden destruction,” Kirton said.
The elder advised that there is no need for anyone to determine Christoff’s final outcome. The elder said the fact that no one knows what Christoff’s last thought was, says that “we need to stay clear of judgments”.
“This young man gave of himself, expecting that he was doing the entire nation, the region and the world a favour. I want to put it in your spirit today that Christoff shall not die in vain. His life has to make a transformation in some young life today. Somebody must wake up and understand that our end is imminent and nobody knows who will be called next to eternal destination,” Kirton said.
The atmosphere at the grave site was as somber as it was at the Gymnasium.
As Christoff’s casket was lowered into the grave, many could no longer hold back their tears, while others took their final pictures of the photojournalist’s casket until they could see it no more.
Nation photographer Reco Moore rested a camera on the casket. (AH)
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