4-minute ser­vice Prince Buster

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mel Cooke Gleaner Writer

BE­FORE SATUR­DAY morn­ing’s funeral ser­vice for the late Muham­mad Yusuf Ali, the Mus­lim name of Ce­cil Bus­ta­mante Camp­bell, who per­formed as Prince Buster, it was made clear that it would be end quickly.

And it was, with the ac­tual ser­vice at the Is­lamic Coun­cil of Ja­maica, 24 Camp Road, Kingston, of­fi­ci­ated by Sheikh Musa Ti­jani, tak­ing four min­utes. How­ever, it was pre­ceded by 14 min­utes of re­in­forc­ing Ali’s right to choose the man­ner in which his fi­nal of­fi­cial ser­vice would be con­ducted.

“We have come here to­day for one pur­pose only, to say farewell to our beloved Mus­lim brother Muham­mad Yusuf Ali that we knew as Prince Buster,” Ti­jani said. The sheikh added that Ali made his choice to be a Mus­lim, live the life of a Mus­lim, and go to God the Mus­lim way. Ali died in Miami, USA, on Septem­ber 8, 2016.

“We are not go­ing to add any­thing to it and we are not go­ing to take any­thing away from it,” Ti­jani said. “We want to bury him in the Mus­lim way. We want every­body to re­spect that.”

Scores of pairs of shoes out­side the door to the build­ing in­di­cated this re­spect as it was asked that footwear be re­moved be­fore en­ter­ing (this did not in­clude socks). Males and fe­males were sep­a­rated by a pas­sage be­tween two sets of chairs. The sim­ple cof­fin with Ali’s body was placed at the front of the room, length­wise to the wall, Mus­lim males stand­ing be­side each other fac­ing the wall with their backs to those ob­serv­ing.

Ti­jani said: “We have to serve God the way God wants,” He re­in­forced that it was an Is­lamic burial. Ti­jani said that when the ser­vice was over, they would not wait on any­one to go to the May Pen Ceme­tery. “When we ar­rive there, we do not wait on any­one,” he said.

With that, the two lines of men were put in or­der and there was a chant and re­sponse be­tween the sheikh and the males, who raised their hands, palms up and fin­gers ex­tended, as they spoke in cho­rus. Four min­utes later, it was over, and the cof­fin was taken out and placed in the hearse as a quar­tet of horn play­ers on the side­walk across the road played Africa Blood and Mighty Like a Rose.

Both are Prince Buster pro­duc­tions.


How­ever, the solem­nity of the oc­ca­sion was dis­turbed when there was a commotion just in­side the coun­cil’s gates, where a male voice bel­lowed that he was Prince Buster’s real son, the dec­la­ra­tion em­pha­sised with a Ja­maican ep­i­thet. The man was quickly ush­ered out on to the road and there was a gath­er­ing at the in­ter­sec­tion with South Camp Road.

Ali’s sons, who had car­ried their fa­ther’s cas­ket, came out on to the road clearly very an­gry. How­ever, per­sons in­ter­vened and there was no phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion, al­though the hearse was briefly de­layed on its jour­ney to May Pen Ceme­tery.

At the ceme­tery on Span­ish Town Road, where Prince Buster’s dirt grave was par­al­lel to the wall separat­ing the burial ground from the side­walk, the cer­e­mony was also brief. Buster’s cof­fin was placed on planks and low­ered on to the ground, dust ris­ing as it set­tled into place. Hand­fuls of dirt were thrown on the cof­fin and an at­tempt to in­clude a wreath was de­nied, in ac­cor­dance with the man­ner of the burial.

Af­ter the rit­ual hand­fuls of dirt, Buster’s son, Jameel Ali, used a shovel to scoop the first sig­nif­i­cant amount of earth on to his fa­ther’s cof­fin be­fore the

task was taken over by men with wheel­bar­rows. Ini­tially, the cof­fin was hardly vis­i­ble through wraiths of dust, which sub­sided as the cof­fin was soon cov­ered and the hole grad­u­ally filled.

Al­though there was no of­fi­cial singing at the Is­lamic burial, where once again the sheikh led Mus­lim men in very brief rites, the voice of Ja­maican pop­u­lar mu­sic was not to be de­nied at the send-off for one of its cre­ators. An im­promptu cho­rale sang Prince Buster’s Hard Man Fe Dead, ac­com­pa­nied by clap­ping, Wash Wash and Oh Carolina (the last song at the May Pen Ceme­tery) in­cluded in the se­lec­tions de­liv­ered, though not di­rectly at the grave­side.

Min­is­ter of Cul­ture, Gen­der, En­ter­tain­ment and Sport Olivia Grange did not men­tion the flare-up at South Camp Road when she spoke at the mu­sic trib­ute to Prince Buster which fol­lowed his in­ter­ment. How­ever, the em­pha­sis on unity was clear at the lec­ture hall of the In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (IOJ), East Street, when she said: “I must ac­knowl­edge the fam­ily – and when I say fam­ily, the en­tire fam­ily. We are here to put our dif­fer­ences aside and cel­e­brate a man ... . ”

Grange asked that the fam­ily mem­bers stand, which they did. Jameel Ali was in­vited to say thanks on be­half of Prince Buster’s fam­ily mem­bers.

The con­cert, hosted by Mutabaruka, in­cluded per­for­mances by Ernie Smith, Strange­jah Cole and Patsy, Er­rol Dunk­ley, Den­nis Al­capone, Lloyd Parkes’ band, Tappa Zukie and Mys­tic Rev­e­la­tion of Rasta­fari.


Mus­lim males in a row in front of and to the side of the cof­fin with the body of Muham­mad Yusuf Ali (Prince Buster).

Jameel Ali shov­els dirt on to the cof­fin of his fa­ther, Muham­mad Yusuf Ali (Prince Buster), at the May Pen Ceme­tery, St An­drew, on Satur­day.

Ishaq Ali (left) and Jameel Ali, sons of Prince Buster (Muham­mad Yusuf Ali), take the lead in car­ry­ing the cas­ket with their fa­ther’s re­mains.


Dust rises from Prince Buster’s grave as the hole is filled with dirt.

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