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Accident victim put to rest

An emotional funeral service was held today for Abijah Ijestic Holder-Phillips, who died in a car accident on June 26 on his way home from his school graduation.

Shortly after the boy’s mother, Felisha Holder, delivered a moving eulogy, speaking gloriously about her dead son, the boy’s clearly upset father took to the podium and accused Holder of failing to allow him to speak at the service, which was being held at Coral Ridge Memorial Chapel.

Felisha Holder delivering the eulogy.

Felisha Holder delivering the eulogy.

His tirade lasted less than a minute, as the sound system was turned off,  and his “brethren” who were in charge of the service asked him to take his seat.

That did not go down well with the angry father who, followed by some members of the congregation, walked out, complaining loudly that he felt disrespected.

It was just about 1p.m. by then, and, with the service over, the pall-bearers hurriedly carried the white casket, with a blue and white satin interior, to the burial site.

Sergeants of the Church of Haile Salassie 1st carrying the casket from the Chapel  to the gravesite.

Sergeants of the Church of Haile Selassie 1st carrying the casket from the Chapel
to the gravesite.

There, the father had to be calmed down once by family members and friends, and at one time had to be restrained, as he again vented his frustration.

Abijah’s father Junior Phillips being restrained by some of his brethren.

Abijah’s father being restrained by some of his brethren.

Meanwhile, the more composed mother,  comforted by loved ones, stood quietly some distance from Phillips, and ensured the burial continued, despite the loud murmurs and chattering voices commenting on what had transpired.

Minutes later the police arrived with sirens blaring, and had a conversation with Holder. It was not immediately clear what they discussed, but soon after their arrival, the tension eased, and the father requested, and was granted, an opportunity to speak.

In his brief remarks, the grieving dad thanked those who turned up to pay their last respects to his son, and apologized for his behaviour. However, he again complained of being treated with disrespect.

“I am grateful for everything that you all have done. I give so much thanks and praises. All I did want to say is something pertaining to my son’s passing.

“It was pure disrespect to sound a voice pertaining to my son and the [micro]phone get shut down from before me. The people that do it supposed to be my brothers and sisters. It ain’t no person that ain’t got no locks, and that is disrespect,” he said, before offering a prayer.

Abijah received an unusual funeral in the form of a Rastafarian ritual that included chanting and the burning of incense. The priest and members of his church covered their heads with black cloth, while some of the men wore the rastafarian colours.   

Before delivering the eloquent eulogy, Holder told the mourners who crammed the chapel, she was aware that what they had witnessed was unusual, but the rites and worship ceromony was one of rejoicing for her “sun” who had lived a perfect life of unconditional love for “man, animal and all living things on earth”.

She described the former Welches Primary School student – whose schoolmates sang two selections at the service – as inquisitive, saying he did not hold back his many questions about nature.

Students of Welches Primary School singing ‘See You Again’ for their deceased friend Abijah.

Students of Welches Primary School singing ‘See You Again’ for their deceased friend Abijah.

Holder, who was driving the car when the accident occurred, said Abijah was very close to his teenaged sister, Ibrel, who was injured in the same accident.

With Ibrel sitting in a wheelchair in the audience, Holder said the siblings were always in each other’s company, and could be found “talking up a storm” or wearing each other’s clothing.

She spoke of Abijah’s “sound knowledge” of plants which often meant giving advice about what could be used for colds, or what leaf his teacher could place beneath her desk to drive away mosquitoes.

“I will miss his face and his smile and his warmth and his kindness, [and his] love. Even though I used to be quarreling about the caterpillars in the bottle and the lizards that he catch, I will miss everything about him,” said the mother, who insisted that death was finite, and that her tears were not of mourning.

Eleven-year-old Abijah Holder, who lost his life in a road accident last month, will be buried tomorrow.

Abijah Holder

She said she wished she was able to see her son grow into a good, loving man, but at the same time, noted that he had lived a good life.

“Let us imagine that Abijah has just gone away physically, because that is all really that it is. His spirit lives in our memories and our hearts. I know that is what it will be for me because I was the person . . .  at the football matches, everything.”

At the gravesite, the mother released two doves and, side by side, they soared, until they disappeared.

6 Responses to GOODBYE ABIJAH

  1. MariaMaria Angel
    MariaMaria Angel July 14, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    We do not know what has occurred in the past between the two adults that might have caused the mother not to want him to speak at the funeral. There are three sides to every story.
    Having said that, that little boy has gone on from this world. Funerals are for the living not the dead and Abijah is beyond what transpired there.
    R.I.P young man.

  2. Patty July 14, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    May he rest in peace. May his parents find comfort in the Most High.

  3. seagul July 15, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Through the powers of the most High–protected by His Majesty.
    R.I.P ty Ajani…

  4. Miss Nell July 15, 2015 at 7:45 am

    RIP. So sad. Love goes out to his friends and family. His mother is a fine example of a strong woman fueled by love. I cannot begin to imagine…. Peace.

  5. Sandra basc July 15, 2015 at 8:26 am

    There is a time and place for everything. That child’s funeral was not the place for the parents to show their dislike for each other. Respect should be shown for the deceased and as adults they should know better.

    Rest in peace little one.

  6. Sue Donym July 15, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I hope that the father can find the peace and understanding to look very deeply within. Few will understand the grief and guilt the mother must feel. Who knows what was the last thing the sister said to her brother and what loss she must feel without her constant companion. Respect to those who understood that maintaining the decorum of the occasion was the most fitting tribute to Abijah.


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