A Nation In Pain: The Tragedy Of Shannon Banfield

Ms Banfield’s death has forced us to come face to face with the reality of what it’s like living in Trinidad and Tobago today. Your life can be snuffed out, senselessly taken away at any time.

A few days ago, RBL employee, 20-year-old Shannon Banfield was reported missing. The news of the discovery of her body at IAM & Co., on Charlotte Street, has rocked me to my core. Scrolling through my facebook feed, it is obvious that the death of this young woman has affected us all.

Ana-Lise: As women, we all see ourselves in Shannon. This country should be shut down! We have some serious issues to address! #fedup Today is a sad sad sad day.

Teasha: Ok so we’re all angry…what are we gonna do??? If we say we’re going to do a one day protest to unite as a country against crime let me see who is going to join in?? I’ve already started talking to the media. Or will you just go about life complaining and not doing anything. Are you in or out?? #stoptalkingstartacting

Ursa: I am so heartbroken right now…Living in T&T, it has become a daily habit for me to skim over the bad news but something about today has got me feeling really angry, sad and hurt. #RIPShannonBanfield

Lisa: Trinidad, we officially gone through!

Kemba: Ms. Banfield was doing what anyone of us could have been doing. Pennywise and IAM??? A woman’s dream!!! Perhaps, that’s what sends the chill down our spines… Because if we think about it, it could have been anyone of us, anyone that we know… This has hit home for us all…

Ricardo: Men, we are failing our females. We men are charged with the responsibility to protect our women, not rape, beat, abuse or kill them. I am ashamed today…

Such has been the outcry from frustrated, angry citizens. How did we get here?

I refuse to play the blame game. We have become so comfortable passing the buck that we are reaping the fruits of inaction. As a collective, we have failed each other. As parents, we have threatened the dedicated, hardworking teachers who have attempted to discipline our children. That is not normal. We inadvertently encourage the bad behaviour of our young people by sharing videos of their fights on social media. Not normal. We’ve elected governments that are not held accountable for their actions. Instead, our only concern is that the people in our offices look like us. Not normal. We continue to accept and support companies with unjustifiable high prices and poor service. This is not normal. We pay exorbitant amounts of money for medical attention from the same health professionals who mistreat and ignore us at the public hospitals. Trinidad and Tobago, these things are not normal and they are not right!

Like everybody else in this country, I have been living in a society where the abnormal has become normal. We’ve become desensitised to the endless stories of crime, violence, missing persons and murders. We shrug them off with the same nonchalance with which we flick a mosquito away. So why has the murder of Ms. Banfield evoked such a response from the general public?

A beautiful woman with a promising future

Is it because she was just like you and me? Going about her business on a regular day, maybe preparing for the fast-approaching Christmas season. Perhaps she reminds you of your daughter or granddaughter; a beautiful young woman with a promising future ahead. She could be your sister, your best friend or co-worker. Ms Banfield’s death has forced us to come face to face with the reality of what it’s like living in Trinidad and Tobago today. Your life can be snuffed out, senselessly taken away at any time. That, my friends, is not normal.

When would enough be enough? When will we take action for the things that really matter? It is time for us to not only speak out but act. We need to demand more from each other – more from our children, more from our families, more from our countrymen, more from the service industry, more from our police officers, more from the government. We have accepted and encouraged mediocrity for far too long. We are now a nation in crisis.

Trinbagonians show up where they want…when they want to. We’re an unstoppable force during the Carnival season; attending fetes and band launches in the thousands. I’ve witnessed how we converged on the new Starbucks, stood in line for more than an hour for a cup of coffee. I’m not condemning that. We should enjoy these novelties. But when are we going to show up for our country? Who is going to show up for Shannon Banfield and her grieving family? We cannot allow ourselves to be perceived as a society that cares more about pleasurable things than the lives of our people.

Trinidad & Tobago it is time we take our country back.

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