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Tribute to the late Kenneth ‘Pupa Ken’ Phillip

Kenneth ‘Pupa Ken’ Phillip

Kenneth ‘Pupa Ken’ Phillip

By Sandra Phillip Hodge

My youngest sibling, Kenneth, also known to his peers as “Pupa Ken”, has transitioned from this life on March 5, 2017.

He is survived by three sons, two grand-daughters, six siblings, numerous extended family members and friends, at home and abroad.

Ken’s passing was sudden, after a period of living with a physical disability which gradually took away his freedom of movement.

This was hard for a man who was always on the go, fiercely independent, and full of positive energy.

It was also hard for those who loved him, particular for me being the eldest of our mother’s children…and Ken was the baby in the family, whom I had helped to nurture. We had a special relationship; words here are inadequate for translating the language of my spirit at this time.

But in Almighty God Jehovah I trust, as I cope with a mixture of deep loss, and grief, disappointment, relief, and a new sense of responsibility regarding my role in our family, especially towards Ken’s descendants to whom I am an elder who will have to somehow attempt to fill the void that is left by their Dad and Grand-father.

As someone who tends to always look at the big picture, I cannot ignore this responsibility.

It is family tradition that the elders pass on family history and values to the younger ones, even future generations to come.

In a nutshell, I would like to share some reflections about the life of my dear brother, Ken. He was amazing from a child. He had an out-going personality that seemed to attract people like bees to nectar.

He would quickly form lifetime attachments to those he befriended.

He knew everybody and could remember names of everyone he came to know, not only in the neighbourhood, but in other communities. He was generous in his giving, and loved to joke. What a smile he had…I can see it now and it warms my heart.

Ken spent his youth as any other boy growing up in the Huntum’s Ghut area. He graduated from the BVI High School with a top class diploma, and got a job with a local company that still thinks highly of him today.

His second job was with the Fisheries Complex where he worked for ten years before moving to New York. Outside of school and work, Ken pursued his passions: music, sports and photography, but the greatest of these was photography.


Reggae music was undoubtedly the most influential medium in Ken’s life. Through this he gained consciousness of the ‘black struggle’ and the Rastafari culture which he adopted from his teen years and continued until the day he died. His collection consists of prominent artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steel Pulse, Gregory Isaacs, U-Roy, Big Youth, Third World, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, among many others.

He would travel to the USVI to attend concerts and didn’t miss any held in Tortola.

His own artistic talents were explored at the Road Town Bandstand, when he and others, such as Tomal would have their weekend jam sessions, chanting lyrics in the fashion of the day.

It was then that he took on the ‘stage name’ Pupa Ken. Ken’s motto in life was: “Seek knowledge before vengeance” – inspired by the St. Croix Reggae band ‘Midnite’ with an album by that title.

This sums up his strong opinion on matters concerning justice, that one should not be too quick to rush into judgment and possible take wrong action against others before knowing the facts.


Ken was a stellar basketball player and his playing partners would be able to say more about him in this regard than I can, but he told me that he played Point/Rear Guard (or something like that) on his team.

His other sporting interest was Horse Racing. He was a spectator in this sport but his friends were people who owned horses or closely connected to the racing fraternity.

And of course, Ken had to take pictures. Bicycle-riding was another of his thing. Long before the organized bicycle clubs came into being, Ken was a champion rider on his hi-speed bike. I once tried to do like him, ‘popping wheelies’, and had such a fall, hitting my knee so hard that I never attempted it again.


This was his life-long passion. Ken took up this hobby from time he was a school-boy, teaching himself to use an old 35mm camera that I had at home (either Petri or Olympus).

He learned how to set it up on a tripod and take pictures of himself. He took pictures of everything, and everyone was a subject. He later invested in more sophisticated equipment and developed his skills to professional levels although he didn’t pursue this as a commercial activity.

Ken was not only gifted in the areas mentioned above. He was talented academically and learning for him did not mean a college education. He was able to teach himself whatever he put his mind to.

He became a telecommunications expert, after working with the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (311) for about ten years before returning home, after being diagnosed with a muscular-skeletal degenerative disease which eventually reduced the use of his hands to the clicking of the mouse.

Ken had set up his own communication center at home which kept him in touch with the outside world, with family and friends whom he communicated with on a daily basis, through the computer and Internet.

He spent his last days commanding this center, being cared for by members of his family (including myself) and friends.

On behalf of our family, I thank all who took the time to visit, call or in any way showed love and kindness to my beloved brother while he was still with us, and for those who have expressed their condolences via personal calls, cards, or Facebook messages.

Persons seeking information about the funeral may contact Tortola Memorial/Davis Funeral Home or via email;

May his spirit be free and at peace.

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