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‘I don’t want it to happen to no more mothers’

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Little Kenwana is just a few months old and barely ankle-high but she's already won the hearts of her new family and brought some much-needed joy to a household which has suffered more than its fair share of heartache.The Royal Gazette, she is finally at peace with the loss of her son, finally able to accept he's not coming back and able to handle the fact that his killers have yet to be caught.“If they get past man's laws, they won't get past God's laws,” she says. “Since he's been dead, I talk to God a lot. I say to the Lord Father: 'I'm leaving this all in your hands, just make me stronger'.

The tiny mixed-breed puppy is named after murder victim Kenwandee Robinson and she's helping those who loved him best to enjoy a little fun and a little laughter, after months of despair.

“She's very friendly and Kenwandee was a very friendly person,” says his mother Karon Robinson, as she scoops up Kenwana and hugs her close. “I just fell in love with her. She's great.”

Karon's house on St Monica's Road, Pembroke, is just a few short steps from where her youngest child was gunned down on May 22, 2009 but, oddly enough, it's not a sad place to visit and not just because of the playful new pet.

Relatives and friends come and go frequently, grandchildren dash around the neat and colourful yard, and Karon and her sister Susanne greet everyone with warmth and smiles.

Each day, as she leaves for work, Karon can't help but see the spot opposite her house where Kenwandee, 27, was sitting with his best friend Mikey Adams when two men rode past on a motorcycle and swiftly snuffed out his life.

Nor can she avoid the wall murals paying tribute to “Wheels” the nickname many knew her son by, thanks to his love of motorbikes and the childhood friends of his who have also been killed since May 2009.

Yet, the 52-year-old tells

“In God's Ten Commandments, it says thou shall not kill and what He sees fit to do, so be it. Whatever He decides, I'm leaving it all up to him.”

She adds: “I feel at peace. I feel happy; I know he's with the Lord and he's going to be all right. I can accept everything that has happened. My only problem is that I miss him. He's not physically here in front of me.”

Her son's murder 27 months ago sparked a wave of shootings which have left another 15 men dead and made gun crime and gang violence the Island's most pressing social problem.

Police say Kenwandee, who would've turned 30 a month ago, was a member of the 42 gang, along with subsequent murder victims Kumi Harford and Perry Puckerin. Shane Minors, killed on December 17, 2009, is thought to have been targeted due to his brother Shaki's ties to 42.

Karon, like many other mothers of those fatally shot, sees it rather differently.

“He wasn't a gangster,” she says of her son. “Somebody could've told them he was a 42 gang member. But if those boys were going to do something, he wouldn't be there. He would be with his child the majority of the time.

“He would chat with them for a few minutes or whatever and then he would go on his merry way, pick up his little boy, pick up the babymomma. He grew up with them all and he just happened to be out in the street, just saying 'hi' to them.”

She adds: “I have so much feelings going on inside, since my son, then Kumi Harford, then Shane Minors, then Perry Puckerin.

“All we moms, we all grew up together and our kids grew up together 42 is not a gang, it's like family. We have to try to keep each other strong.”

One of her closest girlfriends stayed by her side at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on the day Kenwandee was shot; less than two years later, she was repaying the favour, comforting the same friend after the woman's grandson, Randy Robinson, was killed in the same way.

“A lot of people, if they have not been through it, it's probably really hard to understand,” says Karon. “It's a deep inner feeling that you get. When it first happened, it felt like my heart was stabbed. We all talk about it. I think that's helped me because I can express myself, the way I feel. It makes me stronger.”

What was undoubtedly the worst day of Karon's life began in the usual way. Kenwandee dropped her off at her job early in the morning and promised to pick her up at 5pm, before heading off to see his son, La'Naiye.

Shortly after 2.45pm, her sister Carla called her at work to say Kenwandee had been shot.

“I just fell to pieces,” she recalls. “I started crying and just hoping that it was all right.”

It wasn't all right a fact that became clear later that afternoon as she and her girlfriend sat in the hospital cafe, trying to eat some food and listening to the news.

“The news came on and it said two males were shot,” she says. “They went on to a bit of other news and then it said one [of the two males] had succumbed to his injuries.

“I just knew it was my son. I ran down the hallway, screaming, back to the [waiting] room. After a while, the doctors came in there. They didn't have to tell me.

“As soon as they said: 'Everyone that's not a Robinson, please leave the room', that was my confirmation.”

Karon, who has another son and two daughters, all in their 30s, left the hospital without viewing the body, preferring to remember Kenwandee alive. At the “huge funeral”, it was the same.

“I couldn't go in the church to see him like that,” she says. “I'd rather remember him the last time I saw him. Even with the burial, I was afar in the back.”

She describes “screaming and bawling” all the way home in the car from the hospital and then: “I just lay on the floor of my sister's bedroom and just screamed and screamed and screamed.

“I didn't sleep for days. I was up all day and at night. I was like a zombie in another world, tears were just running every night, every day.”

The screaming eventually subsided but for months the crying didn't stop. Karon, one of nine siblings, says her family had never had to deal with a violent death and it left everyone bewildered.

A breakthrough came for her about six months after Kenwandee was shot. “He just came to me and said 'stop crying, momma, I'm all right',” she recalls. “He just came into my head.

“After that, I took hold of myself and said 'he's right'. I have shed some tears. My family has shed some tears, I wonder if we have got any left.”

These days, Karon focuses on the Kenwandee she remembers: the devoted father to La'Naiye, now five; the part-time pharmacy worker who had recently moved into a new home in Paget with his girlfriend and son; the “cheerful, happy” joker whose favourite phrase was “Bless up!”.

The single mother-of-four and grandmother-of-seven proudly holds up a copy of a certificate showing that Kenwandee completed a parenting course not long before he died.

“He always had his little boy with him, from the day he was born to the day he passed away. He dropped his child off at school that day.”

She's acutely aware that some in the community may be quick to judge her parenting skills but says simply: “I tried to bring my son up well.”

She, her sister Susanne and their friends talk a lot about what could be done to stop more young men getting caught up in the tit-for-tat cycle of violence that has destroyed so many lives.

Susanne, who was very close to her nephew, says it's vital boys are taught that “life is so precious and nobody deserves to die” and important that those responsible for the 16 shootings since May 2009 understand they can ask God for forgiveness.

“A lot of them, I saw them growing up,” she says. “We are all family in Bermuda in some way. They are going to be feeling hurt. But we know our God is a forgiving God.”

In her heart, she has already forgiven the person who pulled the trigger on Kenwandee. “If that person stood in front of me now, I'd love and hug them and feel so sorry for them. I'd say 'just take it to God, he'll help you'.”

Karon agrees. “I think of him every day,” she says of Kenwandee. “But I don't want no revenge. I just want them to stop. I don't want it to happen to no more mothers.”

Karon Robinson, mother of murder victim Kenwandee Robinson, with her dog Kenwana, named in his memory. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Little Kenwana, named in memory of murder victim Kenwandee Robinson, poses for the camera. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Kenwandee Robinson

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Published August 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm (Updated August 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm)

‘I don’t want it to happen to no more mothers’

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