‘The burden is too heavy’ - Family pained by death of promising 6-y-o in Clarendon
Grief and pain gripped the air as mourners gathered at the Sedge Pond Basic School in Race Course, Clarendon, yesterday to celebrate the life of six-year-old Oshane ‘OJ’ Banton, whose body was found in a sewage plant near his home in Lionel Town two months ago.
Little OJ, who harboured dreams of becoming a soldier, was described in tributes as a friendly and well-mannered child who enjoyed an endearing relationship with his mom, Anika Davidson.
Davidson was overcome with grief as she spoke of the elder of her two children.
Recalling OJ’s birth, Davidson said, “I hold OJ in my arms at the hospital, and I lift him above my head and I started to cry. I said ‘Lord, I want to ask You to give me all the strength and courage to take care of my son’, and I said ‘Lord, I will promise him that no matter what he asks for, I will give him’, and until the day of his disappearance, I kept that promise.”
OJ went missing on November 13 last year, and his body was discovered a day later.
Davidson recalled her son’s shy demeanour but said it was not a deterrent to him being named a prefect at the Hope Basic School.
The mother said that her grief has been compounded by accusations of her being negligent in causing her son’s death.
“I was called wicked and all sorts of names. Sometimes I feel like giving up. I tell my mother, me say, ‘Mommy, the burden is too heavy’,” Davidson said as tears streamed down her face.
Reneal Banton, OJ’s father, told The Gleaner that he did not accept the autopsy finding, which ruled drowning as the cause of his son’s death.
“I’m not seeing where this child drowned. I still can’t say, yes, he drowned, but I leave it in God’s hands,” said Banton.
“Me can’t believe all now say mi son dead like this. It tear me apart. I’m just sorry I never got the chance to be in his life more, to live around him and see him every day,” he said.
OJ’s visually impaired grandmother wailed as she hugged the white coffin bearing his remains.
“OJ, me love you!” she screamed.
Marchelle Williams-Hinds, principal of the Watsonton Primary School, said that OJ was “full of promise, a child full of potential, a child with many hopes and dreams, a child we could say would make a positive contribution to society, and my heart is broken”.
Arlene Thomas, principal of the Seaward Primary and Junior High School in Kingston, where Oshane’s father serves as music teacher, used the opportunity to remind mourners that it takes a community effort to guarantee children’s safety.
“As a community, I ask that we promote vigilance when it comes to our children. Our children is everybody’s business, and it takes a village to a raise a child, so every body must be looking out for every child. That is why I’m so grieved today because nobody seems to see anything or know anything, but the good thing is the Creator knows ... . He sees everything, but this is a learning lesson to all of us,” said Thomas.