By Fareeza Haniff and Latoya Giles.
It was a sad day for the media fraternity when 23-year-old Akila Luana Bonita Jacobs was laid to rest yesterday, at Number 28 Village, West Coast Berbice, one week after the tragic accident at Amelia’s Ward, Linden, when the minibus in which she was travelling smashed into a truck.
She would always be remembered for her smile and her love for life.
At yesterday’s service at St. George’s Cathedral, scores of media workers turned out to say their final goodbyes to their now dead colleague.
As hymns were being sung in the church, Akila’s sister, Onika, broke down in tears and fainted. Sitting besides the casket during the service, Akila’s mother, Sandra Austin, cried uncontrollably as she continuously called out her daughter’s name.
Akila’s two-year-old daughter, Akeriah, seemed unaware of what was happening around her. She appeared happy throughout the service. The youngster only started to cry when she saw that her aunt Onika had fainted.
A survivor of the fatal accident, June Ann Amsterdam, also cried hysterically during the service, after she saw the motionless body of her colleague in the casket.
Shonnette Moore, who paid a tribute on behalf of the Guyana Press Association, said that Akila loved the media and she lived for it. “Akila was a keen listener, and this made her an excellent reporter.”
She added that Akila was an aspiring young reporter with an attitude that would have led her in a positive direction. Moore said that media operatives are always willing to go to cover assignments, but when hit with the harsh reality of doing a story on someone you know, it becomes unbearable.
She further told the gathering that it could have been anyone, but it was the girl next door, Akila Jacobs, who today is celebrating with the angels.
NCN’s editor in chief Michael Gordon noted that it is indeed a sad day. “We never thought that we would have gathered on this note.”
Gordon expressed that he only knew her a few months, but that the period seemed like a lifetime. “She impacted everyone around her; she had that God-given talent of captivating someone with her infectious smile. Akila had the potential of soaring to great heights, and she gave 100 per cent towards her job. I do hope that her daughter is the pillar of strength her mother was, and we are committed to have her memory live on,” Gordon noted.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn; leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman; PNCR Members of Parliament Basil Williams and Vincent Alexander; and Guyana Telephone and Telegraph CEO Joe Singh were all at yesterday’s funeral service.
Minister Benn noted that Akila’s death was a personal blow to his ministry, since the late reporter would usually cover his ministry.
“Akila was always an energetic person, and she should have never met her demise because of our roads. As the minister who deals with the infrastructure, I feel somewhat responsible.”
He also urged people to change their road culture.
He urged that passengers should speak out about the driver’s behaviour and file a complaint.
Akila’s eulogy was read by her cousin, who noted that Akila grew up with her grandparents, and because of her charisma the entire village (Number 28) knew her.
She revealed that Akila knew she wanted to become a journalist from a tender age.
“Akila had always said that motherhood was challenging but she loved every new experience of being a mother. After being home for a few months, she had an interview at NCN and was well received. Akila had joked about the fact that she was being paid to mind other people’s business,” her cousin pointed out.
She added that Akila would be the type of person to make a fashion statement every time she went out. She said that her cousin must have known that the evening she died would have brought both good and bad.
“The Friday she stayed home and did a mountain of chores, and she even went to see her mother,” the woman said. Then she broke down in tears.
The funeral procession moved along coastal Guyana to Number 28 Village for another service and interment.
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