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Death wears bling: the glory of London’s Caribbean funerals

Ian Thomson applauds the grand rituals of West Indian funerals in his review of Charlie Phillips’s How Great Thou Art

29 November 2014

9:00 AM

29 November 2014

9:00 AM

How Great Thou Art: Fifty Years of African Caribbean Funerals in London Charlie Phillips

King/Otchere Productions, pp.130, £25+£5 postage, ISBN: 9780992711719

Death is big business in parts of the Caribbean. In the Jamaican capital of Kingston, funeral homes with their plastic white Doric columns and gold-encrusted ‘caskets’ are like a poor man’s dream of heaven. The dwindling belief in an afterlife — the consolation that we might ever join our loved ones — has taken much of the old-time religion out of the West Indian funeral.

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An exhibition of How Great Thou Art: Fifty Years of African Caribbean Funerals is at the Photofusion Gallery, Brixton until 5 December.

Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £25 Tel: 08430 600033. Ian Thomson’s books include the award-winning The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica.

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