Urges sympathizers to wear all-white at Funeral
By James Kokulo Fasuekoi | The AfricaPaper
Brooklyn Park, Minn – Every African mother who has a child that lives in the United States dreams of one day visiting to celebrate the child’s wedding or graduation, but not to come and be taken to a funeral home to view the child’s body.
Unfortunately, this was the fate of Ms. Louise Karluah, a young Liberian woman who arrived here Wednesday at the St. Paul-Minneapolis International Airport under the full glare of the U.S. mass media in preparation for the funeral of her late 10 year-old, Barway Collins.
Her son, Barway, a 4th grade student at the Evergreen School, was reported missing March 18th by his father Pierre Collins, hours after a school bus dropped him off at their Cedarwood apartment. Three weeks later, the boy’s body was found in the Mississippi River by volunteered searchers. Since then, Ms. Karluah has come under media spotlight.
With barely a rest since her arrival, Louise was escorted to the Estes Funeral Chapel home Thursday afternoon to view her son’s remains for the first time. Accompanying her were officials of various religious and Liberian-Minnesota based groups, members of the “Barway Search Team” as well as a city official.
Search for Answers
Louise Karluah sobbed endlessly in her native language, sometimes mixing with English at the time of viewing the body. “Barway Collins…you spoil my effort; why you did this to me? Why?” she shouted repeatedly. But it’s a question law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are trying to find an answer.
Overwhelmed by her son’s reported murder, Ms. Karluah couldn’t stop screaming, even after being pulled away from the body and taken to the Chapel’s hallways where friends and some religious leaders surrounded her in attempt to console her. The scene was devastating so much that some of those comforting her gave in to tears.
Perhaps, the most difficult moment for Ms. Karluah will be Saturday, May 2nd, when hundreds will join her to bid a final farewell to late Barway Collins.
Prior to the viewing, Karluah was taken to the main offices of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM), in Brooklyn Park, Minn., where a news conference organized by the Search for Barway Team awaited her.
With her heart heavily laden with sorrow, Ms. Karluah sat quietly, unable to speak even to those who sat next to her. Her facial expression implied a woman angry and helpless and for much of the duration of the news conference, she stared at working journalists and only awoke to address the media in less than two minutes when it was her turn.
Ms. Karluah extended thanks to the American Government and Liberian women as well as members of the Minnesota communities who joined the search efforts to find the body of Barway Collins.
Asked by a reporter to narrate a short story regarding her memories of Barway while he grew up in her arms, Karluah refused, apparently trying to avoid a flashback. At this point, all other questions from reporters were called off. Still, some members of the press corps were not ready to give up on their questions.
One reporter asked conference hosts for the meaning of “Repast meal” while another asked the grieving Karluah “How is it like to be in the US?”
The phrase “Repast meal” had come through an announcement by a leader from the funeral entertainment committee who appealed for additional volunteers to help out in that area comes Saturday. But it was the last question that sounded odd, considering the event that led to Karluah’s abrupt visit to the US.
But as Brooklyn Center’s Masjid Al-ansar Imam, Mohamed Dukuly fairly put it; the Barway episode didn’t only bring communities together but that it also was a learning process for everyone. And indeed, it did too for members of mainstream US media.
Pastor Alexander Collins who later stepped forward to proxy briefly, told the press that the last money sent to Liberia for Louise by Barway was $50.00 [USD], this indicate the late teenager loved his mother and had plans for his life.
Pastor Collins also disclosed that a total of $7, 597.00 was raised as of yesterday for Barway’s funeral. Out of the amount he said, about $2, 650.00 was used to purchase air ticket to facilitate Karluah’s travel to Minnesota. He appealed to the community to continue donation, noting that there’s still a need for money when returning home.
Dress in White
It was also announced during the conference that the deceased Barway will be attired in white which represents purity, according to the Seyon Nyanwleh, Master of Ceremony. As a result, Barway’s grieving mother is urging sympathizers to wear all-white attire tomorrow as a way to honor her late son.
A wake keeping for the deceased is scheduled tonight at 7: PM at the Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Brooklyn Center while funeral rites are expected to take place tomorrow Saturday, at Shiloh Temple, 1201 West Broadway Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN 55411, and the Repast at Northbrook Alliance Church located at 6240 Aldrich Ave. N, Brooklyn Center, Minn.
The AfricaPaper: James Kokulo Fasuekoi is a Senior Staff Writer for The AfricaPaper. He Covers Hennepin County.