Duppy Freestyle

Duppy is a Jamaican term commonly applied to an order of supernatural beings whose activities appear identical to those of the Islamic djinn or Western poltergeist. According to recent media reports, duppies have been up to their mischief again on that beautiful Caribbean island, with some suggestions that obeah – the local version of voodoo – may also be involved.

A report in the Jamaica Star on 7 August stated that an elderly couple in Drewsland, St Andrew, claimed they were under attack by some ’unseen force’. They were constantly being pelted by stones and household items tossed by ‘invisible hands’.

Witness Eulalee Mills told the Star that the strange events had started on Emancipation Day (16 April). She told the Star reporter in the local Patois:

“I was in my room and I had some things on my microwave and I just see the dem fly off. I took them up back and pack them up but as me turn and a go in the next room, me hear the same tings dem drop off again. The next day everything start fling from my chest of drawers and tings just start throw from all over the room. Everything up in the air, all me medication and me blood pressure machine deh all over the place and tings just start ‘lick’ me inna me back and all over mi body. Me and me husband stand up in our room and all things from the kitchen a sail come in come lick we,” she said.

Mills told the Star that she and her husband had fled to their verandah but the shoes and other items continued to fly out of the house and strike them. Her husband Milford said that he had observed stones being thrown into the house and on the roof, but he could not see who was throwing them

“As soon as me rebuke the ‘spirit’ and stepped out the room, it start act up back again and start sail tings,” he said.

Milford said he has no intention of leaving the house that he built in 1972.

“I know dem spirits deh can’t trouble me, enuh, because me is one of God’s bad man, so me a go continue rebuke them. The rest a people dem in the house no have the spiritual power to fight dem, but me nah stop until me house get calm back,” he said.

Local residents had harassed the Mills, claiming that they were involved in obeah, a Jamaican variant of voodoo. Obeah also may have played a part in an earlier duppy case I investigated in 2013.

In Fortean Times 308 (December 2013) I described a case from Rose, Hall, St. Elizabeth. Cebert Hansen and his family had been under assault for several months by mysterious fires and stones that seemed to materialise out of thin air and fall from near the ceiling. The attacks had destroyed one house and may have been an element in the death of Cebert’s mother, Desna.

A man hit by a stone at the Hansen house at Rose Hall in 2013.

A follow-up report in Jamaica Star earlier this year stated that Desna’s husband, Kenneth, was looking to rebuild the ‘duppy house’, which he says is no longer haunted.

“A lot a people say dem did a go help me build it back, but dem never do it. Me no see no sign of demons, enuh. I live with family members elsewhere, (but) me come here almost every day because me just wah deh a mi yard. Me feel like dem show me bad face because dem want dem house fi demself, so me would really wa move back in a my house.”

Like the Mills, Kenneth Hanson refuted claims that he and his family had been involved in obeah.

“We never do a soul nothing, enuh. We a hard-working people who never dip we hand in anything that is not of God. Me just wa some help,” he said.

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