CLARENDON, Jamaica— It was an outpouring of love for Kemesha Wright and her four children during their funeral service at the Stuart Hall Auditorium at Clarendon College on Sunday, as thousands paid their last respect to the slain quintet.
The 31-year-old Wright was described in tributes as a dedicated mother, who was seeking to progress in life, to uplift the standard for her children, who were also remembered as students with potential and a promising future.
The ceremony was a mixture of sorrow and cheering.
Those who viewed the bodies were overcome with emotions, with many having tear-stained cheeks. The grief briefly transformed into cheering on the arrival of each dignitary, which included Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding.
Wright and her four children — Kimanda Smith, 15; Sharalee Smith, 12; Rafaella Smith, 5; and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry Jr — were killed on the night of June 20. They received numerous stab and other wounds from now confessed killer Rushane Barnett who is a cousin of the victims. Barnett pleaded guilty to five counts of murder last Thursday and is next due in court in September. He is facing the death penalty.
According to several of the individuals who paid tribute in speeches, the killing of the five is because many among the population have embraced a culture of violence, which is used to settle disagreements among each other.
Thee speakers included Chairman of the Umbrella Group of Churches, Archbishop Kenneth Richards; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange; Golding; and Holness’ wife, Juliet.
“This is happening because we live in a country that is too violent. We need to change our ways. We must control our anger, value life and show each other love. If we continue along this path, we will never achieve the destined greatness. It is the single issue that is holding us back.
“We need to change the mindset and culture that embrace violence and show that love and understanding is the way to settle disagreements,” Golding said.
Grange echoed earlier statements that Wright was a loving and caring mother, who dedicated her life to her four children while being undaunted by the challenges of life. She called on Jamaicans to go back 188 years when slaves were united as they waited on August 1, when they would gain their freedom. She also challenged men to stop killing the nation’s women.
Holness in her speech asked for prayers for the family members so they will receive strength in their moment of distress.
The sermon was delivered by Dr Donald Johnson, who preached about Satan being thrown out of heaven and now ruling over the hearts of the unbelievers, which is the reason for violent acts like that which took place with Kemesha and her four children. He said in Jesus, there is hope.