Sacred-Texts  African  Index  Previous  Next 



(1) W. J. Gardner, History of Jamaica, London, 1873, Preface, p. 4.

(2) ditto, p. 184.

(3) Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, London, 1774, Vol. II, p. 472.

(4) ditto, p. 473.

(5) ditto, p. 474.

(6) ditto, p. 474.

(7) ditto, p. 475.

(8) Harry H. Johnston, The Negro in the New World, London, 1910, p. 111.

(9) ditto, p. 111, Note.

(10) ditto, p. 275.

(I1) A. B. Ellis, History of the Gold Coast, London, 1893, p. 94.

(12) Gardner, 1.c., p. 175.

(13) Long, 1.c., Vol. II, p. 427.

(14) R. Sutherland Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, Oxford, 1916, Proverb #523.

(15) J. B. Danquah, Akan Law and Customs, London, 1928, p. 241.

(16) J. G. Christaller, Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language Called Tshi (Twi), Basel, 1933, p. 43.

(17) Bedford Pim, The Negro and Jamaica, London, 1866, p. 64 f. Note:--Quamin really signifies Saturday, not Monday; and, Quaco represents Wednesday, not Thursday.

(18) R. C. Dallas, The History of the Maroons, London, 1803, Vol. I, p. 24 f.

(19) Long, 1.c., Vol. II, p. 340. 264

{p. 265}

(20) Dallas, 1.c., Vol. 1, p. 30.

(21) ditto, p. 31.

(22) ditto, p. 33. Note:--According to Professor Martha Warren Beckwith of Vassar College, Black Roadways, Chapel Hill, 1929, p. 176 f., even to-day the Jamaica Maroons use the old Ashanti language which she calls Kromanti as a secret code of speech. She also declares that old "Kromanti" songs are still sung among these same Maroons. (l.c., p. 192 f.)

(23) Dallas, l.c., Vol. I, p. 34. Cfr. also Martha Warren Beckwith; "The Maroons know 'stronger obeah' than any other group; they are more cunning in herb magic; they command a secret tongue (the so-called Kromanti), and they know old songs in this speech 'strong enough to bewitch anybody'; they employ old arts which deal with spirits." (l.c., p. 191.)

(24) Dallas, l.c., Vol. I, p. 93.

(25) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #1.

(26) Frank Cundall, Historic Jamaica, London, 1915, p. 325.

(27) Dallas, l.c., Vol. I, p. 58.

(28) ditto, p. 64.

(29) Christaller, l.c., p. 356, Onyame.

(30) Dallas, l.c., Vol. I, p. 66.

(31) ditto, p. 116.

(32) ditto, p. 129.

(33) ditto, Vol. II, p. 348 f.

(34) ditto, Vol. I, p. 176.

(35) J. B. Moreton, West India Customs and Manners, London, 1793, p. 133f.

(36) Bryan Edwards, History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies, London, 1793, Vol. II, p. 64.

(37) R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, Oxford, 1923, p. 73. Note:--Doctor Beckwith accentuates the fact that the Maroons to-day refer their traditions back to the Kromanti, (l.c., p. 184) and further asserts that the Maroons form "in some respects a secret society . . . which preserves certain so-called Kromanti customs as a proof of their African pride of blood." (l.c., p. 184 f.)

{p. 266}

(38) W. F. Butler, An Autobiography, New York, 1913, p. 149.

(39) Chambers's Journal, London, Vol. V, No. 215, p. 82.

(40) ditto, p. 83.

(41) Folk-lore. A Quarterly of Myth, Tradition, Institution and Custom, London, Vol. IV, p. 211. Note:--Doctor Beckwith quotes the Jamaica proverb, "If you promise senseh fowl anyt'ing, him wi' look fe it," and explains it as "a saying which warns one to keep one's promises in an obeah transaction." (l.c., p. 1200.)

(42) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #697.

(43) ditto, #175.

(44) Isabel Cranstoun Maclean, Children of Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1910, p. 31.

(45) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #14.

(46) Edwards, l.c., Vol. II, p. 70.

(47) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 215.

(48) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #56.

(49) Herbert G. DeLisser, Twentieth Century Jamaica, Kingston, 1913, p. 110.

(50) Edwards, l.c., Vol. II, p. 71. Note:--Professor Beckwith adopts this view of Bryan Edwards, saying: "Obeah is, I take it, Obboney,"' and adds: "There is a tendency among the sceptical to-day to admit the powers of the obeah-man but to ascribe them to the Devil, so. exchanging pagan for Christian folklore." (l.c., p. 105.)

(51) A. W. Cardinall, In Ashanti and Beyond, Philadelphia, 1927, p. 48.

(52) T. Edward Bowditch, Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, London, 1819, p. 318.

(53) Cfr. Hebrewisms of West Africa, p. 21f.

(54) R. Sutherland Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti Oxford, 1927, p. 160.

(55) ditto, p. 161.

(56) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 82.

(57) Barker and Sinclair, West African Folk-Tales, London, 1917, p. 24.

(58) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #175.

(59) Cfr. Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 215 f. Note:--Had he been really making obi, he would have been surer of his

{p. 267}

privacy and would have squatted on the ground surrounded by his paraphernalia and this would have been the scene with little variation. Most of the ingredients to be used are concealed in a bag from which he draws them as he needs them. The special offering of his patron which must include a white fowl, two bottles of rum and a silver offering are on the ground beside him. Before him is the inevitable empty bottle to receive the ingredients. The incantation opens with a prolonged mumbling which is supposed to be "an unknown tongue." This is accompanied by a swaying of the body. Gradually ingredients are placed in the bottle, and a little rum is poured over them. The throat of the fowl is deftly slit and drops of blood are allowed to fall first on the silver offering, and then on the contents of the bottle to which is finally added a few feathers plucked from various parts of the fowl with a last libation of rum. During all this process the obeah-man has been drawing inspiration from frequent draughts of rum, reserving a substantial portion to be consumed later when he makes a meal off the flesh of the fowl.

(60) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 311f.

(61) ditto, p. 311.

(62) Note:--The name Jamaica is generally derived from the old Indian name which signifies a land of springs or streams.

(63) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #14.

(64) ditto, #85.

(65) Anderson and Cundall, Jamaica Proverbs and Sayings, London, 1927, #979

(66) ditto, #979.

(67) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #125.

(68) Anderson and Cundall, #671.

(69) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #137.

(70) Anderson and Cundall, #3.

(71) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #200.

(72) Anderson and Cundall, #587.

(73) ditto, #591.

(74) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #204.

(75) Anderson and Cundall, #562.

(76) ditto, #563.

(77) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #224.

{p. 268}

(78) ditto, #263.

(79) ditto, #269.

(80) Anderson and Cundall, #1173

(81) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #270

(82) ditto, #288.

(83) Anderson and Cundall, #626.

(84) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #292.

(85) Anderson and Cundall, #1134.

(86) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #298.

(87) ditto, #305.

(88) Anderson and Cundall, #397.

(89) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #407.

(90) Anderson and Cundall, #1194.

(91) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #460.

(92) ditto, #529.

(93) Anderson and Cundall, #1246.

(94) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #590.

(95) Anderson and Cundall, #538.

(96) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #630.

(97) Gardner, l.c., p. 393.

(98) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #669.

(99) Anderson and Cundall, #511.

(100) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #677.

(101) Anderson and Cundall, #1147.

(102) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #753

(103) Anderson and Cundall, #1168.

(104) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #793

(105) Anderson and Cundall, #160.

(106) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #807

(107) Anderson and Cundall, #282a.

(108) ditto, #888.

(109) R. Sutherland Rattray, Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales, Oxford, 1930, p. 149.

(110) Anderson and Cundall, #1224.

(111) Note:--In an appendix to his Reports of the Jamaica Assembly on the subject of the slave trade, London, 1789, Stephen Fuller gave a summary of the Negroes from Africa who were sold in Jamaica between 1764 and 1788. During this period some 50,000 slaves were imported by the five principal agents and of these nearly 15% came from the Gold Coast.

{p. 269}


(1) Notes and Queries, Vol. III, p. 59f.

(2) ditto, Vol. III, p. 149f.

(3) ditto, Vol. III, p. 150.

(4) ditto, Vol. III, p. 309f.

(5) ditto, Vol. III, p. 376.

(6) The Medical Times, September 20, 1851, p. 306.

(7) Notes and Queries, July 15, 1899, p. 47. Note:--This letter of James Platt drew forth the following reply from James Hooper of Harwich in Notes and Queries for July 29, 1899: "If the Reverend H. Goldie's etymology as quoted by Mr. Platt, is correct, Dr. Brewer's account of obiism, as he spells the word, is all wrong. 'Obiism, Serpent-worship. From the Egyptian Ob (the sacred serpent). The African sorceress is still called obi. The Greek ophis is of the same family. Moses forbade the Israelites to inquire of Ob, which we translate wizard.' Now this looks very interesting, and carries us far; but is there an Egyptian word Ob signifying the sacred serpent? And is the Hebrew word Ob identical with the Egyptian Ob; and are both susceptible of the same interpretation? Is an African witch called Obi?"

Jacob Bryant, (1715-1804) of whom his biographer wrote: "In point of classical erudition he was perhaps without an equal in the world," published in 1774-76, A New System or an Analysis of Antient Mythology, "wherein an attempt is made to divest Tradition of Fable, and to reduce Truth to its original Purity." An entire chapter is devoted to "Ob, Oub, Pytho, sive de Ophiolatria."--Cfr. (Third Edition) London, 1807, Vol. II, p. 197 ff.--According to Bryant, a serpent in the Egyptian language was called Ob or Aub--Obion is still the Egyptian name of a serpent--Moses, in the name of God, forbids the Israelites even to inquire of the daemon, Ob which is translated charmer or wizard, divinator aut sortilegus, etc. All this was adopted by the Report of the Lords of the Committee of the Council appointed for the consideration of all Matters relating to Trade and Foregn Plantations, London, 1789, as a basis of the etymology of the word obeah, and as this Report has since served as a starting point for all writers on the subject, the views of Bryant have prevailed until comparatively recently. {p. 270} Thus we find The Daily Advertiser of Kingston, Jamaica, in the issues of October 13-16, 1790, reprinting that part of the Report which refers to obeah.

In The Gentleman's Magazine, December, 1816, p. 502f., there is a letter addressed to the Editor, Sylvanus Urban, dated Penzance, June 1, and signed C. V. L. G., wherein, without reference to the above Report, the writer calls attention to Bryant's derivation of the word Ob, and adds: "The curious coincidence which I mean to remark is, that the witchcraft practised by the Blacks in the West Indies at this day is called Ob or Obi; the ignorant Negroes are under the most superstitious dread of those who profess the art."

(8) The New Dictionary on Historical Principles. Edited by Sir James A. H. Murray, Oxford, 1909, Vol. VII.

(9) Harry H. Johnston, l.c., p. 253, Note 1.

(10) Hugh Goldie, Dictionary of the Efik Language, Glasgow, 1874, p. 300.

(11) ditto, p. 118.

(12) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 104.

(13) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 45.

(14) R. Sutherland Rattray, Ashanti Law and Constitution, Oxford, 1929, p. 313.

(15) Christaller, l.c., p. A

(16) ditto, p. 429.

(17) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #56.

(18) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 28.

(19) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #56.

(20) Christaller, l.c., p. 11.

(21) ditto, p. 588.

(22) British Museum MS. 12405, p. 463.

(23) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 39.

(24) ditto, p. 28.

(25) J. Leighton Wilson, Western Africa, Its History, Condition and Prospects, London, 1856, p. 211.

(26) H. G. DeLisser, Twentieth Century Jamaica, Kingston, 1913, p. 108 ff.

(27) Acts of Assembly, passed in the Island of Jamaica, from 1681 to 1737, inclusive, London, 1743, p. 55.

(28) Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 242-286.

(29) ditto, p. 266.

{p. 271}

(30) ditto, p. 265.

(31) Acts of Assembly, l.c., p. 108.

(32) Acts of Assembly, passed in the Island of Jamaica, from 1770 to 1783, inclusive, Kingston, 1786, p. 256 ff.

(33) John Lunan, Abstracts of the Laws of Jamaica relating to Slaves, St. Jago de la Vega, 1819, p. 118.

(34) Christaller, l.c., p. 301.

(35) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 145f.

(36) The Annual Register, 1760, p. 124

(37) C. O. 139/21. Note:--Conditions in Jamaica at the time may be judged from contemporaneous Publications in England. Thus in The London Chronicle, Vol. VIII (1760), No. 569, a letter dated Kingston, Jamaica, June 14, 1760, mentions: "On Thursday afternoon two Negroes, named Quaco and Anthony, concerned in the late insurrection in St. Mary's, were executed at Spring Path, according to sentence. The former was burnt at a stake, and the latter hanged, his head cut off, and fixed on a pole on the Greenwich road etc." The Annual Register, under date of August 1, 1760, gives (p. 124 f.) extracts of a letter from Jamaica dated May 8, 1760: "They cut off the overseer's head put his blood in a calabash, mixed gun-powder with it, and eat their plantains dipped in it, as they did by every white man they killed. I was last Saturday at Spanish Town before which time one, who had not been in the rebellion actually was burnt alive, for having sworn to cut his master and mistress's heads off, and to make punch bowls of them." A second letter, dated May 21, 1760, states, (l.c., p. 124): "The sentence against the rebel Negroes was put into execution. One of them lived nine days, wanting six hours, without a drop of water, hanging in an excessive hot place, though they complained of the cold in the night."

(38) Long, l.c., Vol. II, p. 416.

(39) Charles Leslie, A New History of Jamaica, London, 1740, p. 308.

(40) Robert Renny, An History of Jamaica, London, 1807, 169 f. Note:--Professor Beckwith remarks: "It is true that as the Negroes become better educated and more intelligent, the spiritist beliefs (upon which obeah practices depend) lose their hold upon the mind; hence a larger and larger number of obeah practitioners become such for mercenary

{p. 272}

reasons or for the opportunity the trade gives them to satisfy sensual desires. But the fact that the trade remains lucrative proves the persistence of the belief, and there is no reason-to suppose that the practitioner is in every case more intelligent than the great mass of the people who employ his skill." (1.c., p. 107 f.)

(41) J. Stewart, An Account of Jamaica and its Inhabitants, London, 1808, p. 256 ff.

(42) J. Stewart, A View of the Past and Present State of the Island of Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1823, p. 276f.

(43) John Williamson, Medical and Miscellaneous Observations relative to the West India Islands, Edinburgh, 1817.

(44) ditto, Vol. I, p. 361.

(45) ditto, Vol. I, p. 359 f.

(46) ditto, Vol. I, p. 114 ff.

(47) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 191 f.

(48) R. R. Madden, A Twelvemonths' Residence in the West Indies, during the Transition from Slavery to Apprenticeship, London, 1835, Vol. I, p. 93.

(49) Benjamin Luckock, Jamaica: Enslaved and Free, New York, 1846, p. 126.

(50) Charles Rampini, Letters from Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1873, p. 132.

(51) T. Banbury, Jamaica Superstitions: or The Obeah Book, Kingston, 1894, p. 5.

(52) ditto, p. 6.

(53) ditto, p. 7 f.

(54) ditto, p. 18.

(55) W. p. Livingston, Black Jamaica, London, 1899, p. 19 ff.

(56) Abraham J. Emerick, Obeah and Duppyism: in Jamaica, Woodstock, 1915, p. 191 ff.

(57) ditto, p. 81.

(58) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 214f.

(59) Chambers's Journal, Vol. V, No. 215, p. 81.

(60) ditto, p. 81.

(61) ditto, p. 82.

(62) ditto, p. 84.

(63) Claude McKay, Banana Bottom, New York, 1933, p. 132.

(64) ditto, p. 134.

{p. 273}

(65) Folk-Lore. A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution and Custom, London, Vol. IV, p. 207 ff.

(66) ditto, p. 210.

(67) Rules and Regulations for the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Spanish Town, 1867, p. 26.

(68) Harry McCrea, The Sub-Officers' Guide, Kingston, 1908, p. 83.

(69) J. E. R. Stephens, Supreme Court Decisions of Jamaica and Privy Council Decisions, from 1774-1923, London, 1924, p. 1538.

(70) Banbury, l.c., p. 9.

(71) Note:--According to Doctor Beckwith: "By whatever natural means the obeah-man may achieve his ends, there is no doubt whatever as to the faith of the Negroes im his spiritual power. . . . One of the strongest arguments against the honesty of the obeah-man is the fact that he actually does excite a man to crime as a condition laid down by the spirit to make his obeah work." (l.c., p. 140.)

(72) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 218.


(1) The Universal Dictionary of the English Language. Edited by Henry Cecil Wyld, London, 1932, p. 787.

(2) British Museum Library, 6005 . k . 5 . (2).

(3) ditto, p. vii.

(4) Cfr. Jacques-Charles Brunet, Manual du Libraire et de l'Amateur de Livres, Paris, 1860, Vol. I, col. 139, Albertus Magnus.

(5) Marius Decrespe, Les Secrets Admirables du Grand Albert, Paris, 1885, Preface, p. vi.

(6) ditto, Preface, p. vii.

(7) The Jamaica Mercury and Kingston Advertiser, Kingston, Jamaica, Vol. II, p. 458.

(8) ditto, Vol. II, p. 698.

(9) ditto, Vol. II, p. 747.

(10) The Royal Gazette, Kingston, Jamaica, Vol. III, No. 89, p. 13.

(11) ditto, Vol. III, No. 93, p. 79.

(12) Benjamin Moseley, A Treatise on Sugar, London, 1:800, p. 197 ff.

(13) William Burdett, Life and Exploits of Mansong, Sommers Town, 1800, p. 17.

{p. 274}


(1) Hesketh J. Bell, Obeah; Witchcraft in the West Indies, London 1889, p. 122 ff.

(2) Rattray: Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 152.

(3) ditto, p. 152.

(4) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #34, p. 36.

(5) ditto, p. 37.

(6) ditto, p. 38.

(7) Banbury, l.c., p. 27.

(8) Christaller, l.c., p. 100.

(9) Banbury, l.c., p. 27. Note:--Writing of the period prior to the great Earthquake of 1692, Gardner says of the slaves: "Great lamentation was made over the graves of the departed, and the spirit, or 'duppy', was supposed to hover for some days about the spot before it took its final departure for Africa, food and rum was placed upon the grave, and the supply renewed from day to day." (Gardner, l.c., p. 99.)

(10) Banbury, l.c., p. 31.

(11) ditto, p. 31.

(12) Abraham J. Emerick, Jamaica Duppies, Woodstock, 1916, p. 339.

(13) ditto, p. 340.

(14) ditto, p. 341.

(15) ditto, p. 345.

(16) Christaller, l.c., p. 424.

(17) Banbury, l.c., p. 23f. Note:--Charles Rampini in his Letters from Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1873, p. 83, states: "A very mischievous ghost is that known by the name of 'rolling calf,' a spirit who haunts the city by night with a flaming eye, trailing a long chain behind him. To speak to, or to touch the chain of a rolling calf will cause him to turn and rend you. The only way to escape is to stick an open penknife in the ground and run without looking behind you.

(18) Banbury, l.c., p. 25. Note:--According to Professor Beckwith, (l.c., p. 100f.): "Whatever the origin of the rolling calf it is looked upon to-day as the animal form assumed by especially dangerous duppies. Obeah-men often become tolling calves and they 'set' rolling calves upon people. Murderers and butchers and I know not how many other reprobates

{p. 275}

become rolling calves when they die, and go to live not only at the roots of cotton-wood trees and in clumps of bamboos but also in caves and deserted houses, whence they emerge at night to follow sugar wains because of their fondness for molasses, or to break into cattle pens."

(19) Banbury, l.c., p. 26. Note:--A writer in Chambers's Journal, January 11, 1902, asserts: "The rolling calf . . . This is a quadruped with blazing eyes and having a clanking chain round its neck. Like the loup-garou, it prowls at night, and the man whom it touches dies. The only way to escape--so the Negroes say--is to stick a penknife in the ground and turn your back on the monster. Like Mephistopheles held back by the sign of the Cross, it cannot then advance, however malevolent it may be."

(20) Banbury, l.c., p. 23.

(21) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 153.

(22) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 152.

(23) Banbury, l.c., p. 19. Note:--Isabel Cranstoun Maclean, (l.c., p. 30 tells us: "Sometimes a man gets the obeah-man to bottle his enemy's shadow for him. So long as it is tightly corked, he has power over that poor enemy and can make him do anything he likes."

(24) Banbury, l.c., p. 20.

(25) ditto, p. 23.

(26) ditto, p. 21.

(27) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 154. Note:--The Daily Gleaner of Kingston, of March 17, 1934, contained an article entitled "With West Indian Duppies," by L. C. Quinlan, wherein it is asserted: "That every man is accompanied by two duppies, a good and a bad one, is a general belief. When a man sleeps, the good duppy remains on watch beside him, while the other goes walking, nor can the sleeper wake until the evil spirit has returned. When you go on a journey, be sure the bad duppy precedes you, as if it doesn't it is likely to harm you. just how you can insist on the bad duppy keeping ahead of you I am at a loss to say." While the writer implies that there is a general belief in this "dream-soul" or bad duppy as he calls it, from my own experience, as related in the text, I could find only vestiges of the belief.

(28) Banbury, l.c., p. 33.

{p. 276}

(29) Christaller, l.c., p. 11.

(30) Banbury, l.c., p. 32 f. Note:--It is Doctor Beckwith's opinion that "Ole Hige is still a menace to infants in Jamaica, and it is from fear of her visit that they are guarded by a blue cross on the ninth night after birth and that a cross is put on the door of dwellings, or grain is strewn before the door. But I do not think her name carries otherwise much fear with it. She is the skin-changing witch of European folk tale, and the story is commonly told of the child who watches the witch slip out of her skin and, while she is away, burns or peppers it so that she cannot resume it again at her return. The lively recital of the hag's consternation, her cry of 'Kin, you no know me?' never fails to win a roar of merriment from the delighted audience. Equally uproarious mirth accompanies the recital of her way of counting when grain or rice is scattered at the door or an X marked on the sill--'One, two, t'ree, an' deh a da!' she reiterates, because, since she can never count beyond the number 'three' and has then to go back and repeat the reckoning, the tale is never told. Why the poor old thing has to count at all is part of the mystery."

(31) Banbury, l.c., p. 35.

(32) Rattray, Ashanti. p. 54.

(33) ditto, p. 145f.

(34) ditto, p. 146.

(35) Martha Warren Beckwith, Jamaica Folk-Lore, New York, 1928, Jamaica Proverbs, #257.

(36) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #41.


(1) DeLisser, l.c., p. 93. Note:--The Negro tribes that had not been contaminated by Mohammedan contacts had a degree of morality that shamed the Whites who first had dealings with them. Cfr. J. H. Driberg, The Lango, London, 1923, p. 209 f., especially the Notes. Here we find the death penalty prescribed for those sensual acts which are usually classified as being "against nature."

(2) M. Malte-Brun, Universal Geography, Philadelphia, 1827, Vol. III, p. 23.

(3) Charles W. Thomas, Adventures and Observations

{p. 277}

on the West Coast of Africa, and its Islands, New York, 1860, p. 129.

(4) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 151.

(5) ditto, p. 151. Note:--T. Edward Bowditch, (l.c., p. 364) relates in connexion with the Ashanti funeral customs: "The singing is almost all recitative, and this is the only part of the music in which the women partake; they join in the choruses, and at the funeral of a female sing the dirge itself; but the frenzy of the moment renders it such a mixture of yells and screeches, that it bids defiance to all notation."

(6) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 158.

(7) ditto, p. 159.

(8) ditto, p. 159.

(9) ditto, p. 190.

(10) ditto, p. 160.

(11) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #77.

(12) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 167.

(13) ditto, p. 167 ff.

(14) ditto, p. 170.

(15) ditto, p. 170.

(16) ditto, p. 161 f. Note:--As will be shown later on, this Ashanti use of the word hole as meaning a grave perseveres in Jamaica where every clergyman soon becomes familiar with the request: "Me beg you one hole, sah!"

(17) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 163.

(18) ditto, p. 163.

(19) ditto, p. 165f.

(20) ditto, p. 166.

(21) ditto, p. 184.

(22) J. B. Danquah, l.c., p. 234.

(23) Charles Leslie, 1.c., p. 308 ff. Note:--Sir Hans Sloane, Natural History of Jamaica, London, 1707, Vol. 1, Introduction, p. xlviii, writing from personal observation had previously reported: "The Negroes from some countries think that they return to their own country when they die in Jamaica, and therefore regard death but little, imagining they shall change their condition by that means from servile to free, and so for this reason often cut their own throats. Whether they die thus or naturally, their country people make great lamentations, mournings, and howlings

{p. 278}

about their expiring, and at their funeral throw in rum and victuals into their graves, to serve them in the other world. Sometimes they bury it in gourds, at other times spill it in the graves."

(24) Edward Long, 1.c., Vol. II, p. 421 f. Note:--In describing the Koromantyn funerals as he had witnessed them in Jamaica, Bryan Edwards l.c., Vol. II, p. 850, reported: "At the burial of such among them as were respected in life, or venerable through age, they exhibit a sort of Pyrrhic or warlike dance, in which their bodies are strongly agitated by running, leaping, and jumping, with many violent and frantic gestures and contortions. Their funeral songs too are all of the heroic or martial cast"--he has just mentioned that the songs of the Eboes are soft and languishing, those of the Koromantyns heroic and martial--affording some colour to the prevalent notion that the Negroes consider death not only as a welcome and happy release from the calamities of their condition, but also as a passport to the place of their nativity; a deliverance which, while it frees them from bondage, restores them to the society of their dearest, long-lost and lamented relatives in Africa. But I am afraid that this, like other European notions concerning the Negroes, is the dream of poetry; the sympathetic effusion of a fanciful or too credulous an imagination." Then after showing the Negro's fear of death, he declares: "We may conclude, therefore, that their funeral songs and ceremonies are commonly nothing more than the dissonance of savage barbarity and riot; as remote from the fond superstition to which they are ascribed, as from the sober dictates of a rational sorrow." The Reverend James M. Phillippo, a Baptist missionary in Jamaica of twenty years' experience, in his Jamaica, its Past and Present State, (London, 1843, p. 244 ff.), relates concerning the slaves: "Their practices at funerals were unnatural and revolting in a high degree. No sooner did the spirit depart from the body of a relative or friend, than the most wild and frantic gesticulations were manifested, accompanied by the beating of drums and the singing of songs. When on the way with the corpse to interment, the bearers, who were often intoxicated, practised the most strange and ridiculous manoeuvres. They would sometimes make a sudden halt, put their ears in a listening attitude

{p. 279}

against the coffin, pretending that the corpse was endued with the gift of speech--that he was angry and required to be appeased, gave instructions for a different distribution of his property, objected to his mode of conveyance, or refused to proceed farther towards the place of burial until some debts due to him were discharged, some slanderous imputation on his character removed, some theft confessed, or until they (the bearers) were presented with renewed potations of rum: and the more effectually to delude the multitude, and thereby enforce their claims, to some of which they were often instigated by the chief mourners, they would pretend to answer the questions of the deceased, echo his requirements, run back with the coffin upon the procession, or jerk it from side to side of the road; not unfrequently, and under the most trivial pretence, they would leave the corpse at the door or in the house of a debtor or neighbour indiscriminately, and resist every importunity for its removal, until his pretended demands were satisfied. On estates these ceremonies were generally performed in a manner which was, if possible, still more revolting. They took place at night by the light of torches, amidst drumming, dancing, singing, drunkenness, and debauchery. The coffin was usually supported on the heads of two bearers, preceded by a man carrying a white flag, and followed by the intoxicated multitude. They went to each. house of the Negro village ostensibly to 'take leave,' but really for exaction and fraud . . . The corpse being deposited in the grave and partially covered with earth, the attendants completed the burial (for a time) by casting the earth behind them, to prevent the deceased from following them home. The last sad offices were usually closed by sacrifices of fowls and other domestic animals, which were torn to pieces and scattered over the grave, together with copious libations of blood and other ingredients, accompanied at the same time with the most violent and extravagant external signs of sorrow; they stamped their feet, tore their hair, beat their breasts, vociferated, and manifested the most wild and frantic gestures. No sooner, however, did the party return to the house of their relatives and friends than every sign of sadness vanished; 'the drums resounded with a livelier beat, the song grew more animated, dancing and festivity commenced, and the

{p. 280}

night was spent in riot and debauchery.' Were the deceased a female, the reputed husband for about a month afterwards was negligent in his person and dress. At the close of this period he proceeded with some of his friends to the grave with several articles of food, and sung a song congratulating the deceased on her enjoyment of complete happiness. This was supposed to terminate their mutual obligations. Each of the party then expressed his wishes of remembrance to his kindred, repeated benedictions on his family, promised soon to return to them, repeated promises to take care of her children, and bade the deceased an affectionate farewell. An additional quantity of earth was now thrown over the grave, and the party partook of the repast they had provided, concluding the ceremony with dancing, singing, and vociferation, regarding death as a welcome relief from the calamities of life, and a passport to the never-to-be-forgotten scenes of their nativity."

(25) Gardner, l.c. p. 186 f. Note:--Matthew Gregory Lewis, more familiarly known as "Monk" Lewis, recorded in his Journal of a West India Proprietor, (London, 1834, p. 97 f.), under date of January 13, 1816: "The Negroes are always buried in their own gardens, and many strange and fantastical ceremonies are observed on the occasion. If the corpse be that of a grown person, they consult it as to which way it pleases to be carried; and they make attempts upon various roads without success, before they hit upon the right one. Till that is accomplished, they stagger under the weight of the coffin, struggle against its force, which draws them in a different direction from that in which they had settled to go; and sometimes in the contest the corpse and the coffin jump off the shoulders of the bearers. But if, as is frequently the case, any person is suspected of having hastened the catastrophe, the corpse will then refuse to go any road but the one which passes by the habitation of the suspected person, and as soon as it approaches his house, no human power is equal to persuading it to pass. As the Negroes are extremely superstitious and very much afraid of ghosts (whom they call the duppy), I rather wonder at their choosing to have their dead buried in their gardens; but I understand their argument to be, that they need only fear the duppies of their enemies, but have nothing to apprehend

{p. 281}

from those after death, who loved them in their lifetime; but the duppies of their adversaries are very alarming beings, equally powerful by day as by night, and who not only are spiritually terrific, but who can give very hard substantial knocks on the pate, whenever they see fit occasion, and can find a good opportunity."

(26) Gardner, l.c., p. 386 ff. Note:--J. Stewart who reported conditions as he found them in Jamaica in 1823, mentions a rather amusing incident, (A View of the Past and Present State of the Island of Jamaica, p. 276): "A Negro who was to be interred in one of the towns, had, it was pretended by some of his friends, a claim on another Negro for a sum of money. The latter denied any such claim; and accordingly, at the funeral of the deceased the accustomed ceremonies took place opposite to the door of his supposed debtor; and this mummery was continued for hours, till the magistrates thought proper to interfere, and compelled the defunct to forego his claim, and proceed quietly on to his place of rest." Cynric R. Williams who visited Jamaica in this same year, 1823, in his Tour through the Island of Jamaica, London, 1826, p. 104 ff., relates: "I did not attend the funeral of the Negro above mentioned, as I thought my presence might be unwelcome, but my two lacqueys were of the party; and Ebenezer, as I suspected, did not lose so excellent an opportunity of endeavouring to edify his brethren, and displaying his progress in religious knowledge. He objected to the heathen ceremony of throwing a fowl into the grave, and said that the yams which they would have buried with the corpse had no more business there than a hog in the Gibna's (Governor's) garden. The son, in the law, of the deceased, described the scene to me, or rather the speech made by Ebenezer, on the occasion, which I shall endeavour to relate in his own words. The corpse was buried by moonlight with the help of torches, and after the Negro fashion; but Ebenezer, seeing that the business was to end there, had called out to know if they would not 'read ober him, and if they were not going to sabe his soul?' The Negroes, very accommodating, told him he might read if he would; on which he took a book from his pocket, and held it the wrong way upward (which did not much signify, as he does not know his letters) and began

{p. 282}

as follows: 'Dea belubb'd, we gather tigether dis face congregation, because it horrible among all men not to take delight in hand for wantonness, lust, and appetite, like brute mule, dat hab no understanding. When de man cut down like guinea grass, he worship no more any body, but gib all him world's good to de debbil; and Garamighty tell him soul must come up into heab'n, where notting but glorio. What de use of fighting wid beast at Feesus? Rise up all and eat and drink, because we die yesterday, no so tomorrow. Who shew you mystery? Who nebba sleep, but twinkle him yeye till de trumpet peak? Who baptize you, and gib you victory ober der debbil's flesh? Old Adam, belubb'd!--he bury when a child, and de new man rise up when he old. Breren, you see dat dam rascal Dollar;--he no Christian; he no Jew, no missionary, no Turk, for true. You see him laugh (Abdallah denied it)--when he go to hell be die, and nebba gnash him teeth, and worms can't nyam him. Breren, all Christians, white and black man, all one colour--Sambo and mulatto--no man bigger dan another, no massa, and no fum fum--plenty o' grog.--So, breren! Garamighty take de dead man, and good night!'" (27) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 104 ff.

(28) ditto, p. 106.

(29) ditto, p. 108.

(30) ditto, p. 2.

(31) ditto, p. 2. Note:--W. D. Weatherford, The Negro from Africa to America (New York, 1924, p. 45), offers the following suggestion as the African viewpoint of the food offered to spirits: "When a man dies his spirit adds itself to that innumerable company of spirits which fill the world about us. The spirit needs the food and care just as it did in its human incarnation, save that it now only consumes the essence of the food, leaving the visible or material food which is eaten by the natives."

(32) Martha Warren Beckwith, Black Roadways, Chapel Hill, 1929, p. 70.

(33) ditto, p. 71.

(34) ditto, p. 71.

(35) ditto, p. 73.

(36) ditto, p. 74.

(37) ditto, p. 75.

{p. 283}

(38) ditto, p. 76 f.

(39) ditto, p. 77 f.

(40) ditto, p. 80 f.

(41) ditto, p. 82.

(42) DeLisser, 1.c., p. 120 ff.

(43) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 152f.

(44) Whisperings of the Caribbean, p. 235 f.

(45) ditto, p. 238 f.


(1) Voodoos and Obeahs, p. 220.

(2) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti.

(3) Rattray, Ashanti Proverbs, #57.

(4) Rattray, Ashanti, p. 163.

(5) Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 25 ff.

(6) A. W. Cardinall, In Ashanti and Beyond, Philadelphia, 1927, p. 224. Note:--In Chambers's Journal, January 11, 1902, p. 81 ff. there appeared an article entitled "'Obeah' To-day in the West Indies," wherein the writer makes this statement: "Just as I was writing, the following curious 'duppy' story came under my notice. It is believed by hundreds of black people in the district of Lamb's River, Jamaica: A boy who was wanted to give evidence in a criminal case was missed a few months ago. It was supposed that he had run away; but it is now darkly rumoured that he was murdered by a young woman, who has ever since been tormented by his 'duppy.' The ghost stones her every night. People say they see the stones hurtling through the air, and the bruises on her body; but they never see anybody throw them. Hundreds of people--so the story goes--follow the luckless young woman about every night to see where the stones come from, but it remains a mystery. The young woman has had her head broken by them, and it is feared that she will lose her reason."

(7) Bell, 1.c., p. 93 ff. Note:--Andrew Lang in The Making of Religion, (London, 1898, p. 366), includes an Appendix, entitled, "The Poltergeist and his Explainers," where, after discussing a number of cases, he concludes: "It seems wiser to admit our ignorance and suspend our belief. Here closes the futile chapter of explanations. Fraud

{p. 284}

is a vera causa, but an hypothesis difficult of application when it is admitted that the effects could not be caused by ordinary mechanical means. Hallucination, through excitement, is a vera causa, but its remarkable uniformity, as described by witnesses from different lands and ages, knowing nothing of each other, makes us hesitate to accept a sweeping hypothesis of hallucination. The case for it is not confirmed, when we have the same reports from witnesses certainly not excited. This extraordinary bundle, then, of reports, practically identical, of facts paralyzing to belief, this bundle made up of statements from so many ages and countries, can only be 'filed for reference.'" It is interesting, then, to record that I received a letter from the Most Reverend Arthur Hinsley, Apostolic Delegate, in East Africa, dated Mombasa, February 11, 1933, wherein he states: "The stone-throwing propensity of the Jamaica Duppies is extraordinary! I heard from missionaries in Uganda or in Kavirondo (Kenya) of two or three cases of such mysterious stone-throwing." Perhaps one of the most remarkable cases that have been recorded on excellent authority is that reported in Rome of January 23, 1909, by Monsignor Delalle, Vicar Apostolic in Natal, which concerns the exorcism of a possessed girl named Germana at St. Michael's Mission, Natal in May, 1907. We have here extraordinary strength, as well as knowledge of what is going on at a distance. The girl was sixteen years of age, utterly ignorant of Latin, and yet the Bishop addressed her only in that tongue, while she answered usually in Zulu, but sometimes in Latin.


(1) Job ii. 6.

(2) I Peter v.8.

(3) Tob. iii. 8.

(4) Ps. lxxvii. 49.

(5) Eccl. xxxix. 33, 34.

(6) Mark i. 23-26.

(7) Mark v. 1-14

(8) Mark ix. 16-28.

(9) Simon Augustine Blackmore, Spiritism. Facts and Frauds. New York, 1924, p. 208 f. Note --Cfr. also Alexius

{p. 285}

M. Lepicier, The Unseen World, London, 1909 p. 3: "Very many of the so-called spiritistic manifestations reported in books and journals have, under closer examination, been proved to be the result of mere trickery and fraud. It is nevertheless admitted that there are certain phenomena which, after rigid examination, cannot possibly be accounted for by these means, and that it would be an arbitrary and highly unscientific proceeding were we to deny the operation of the invisible spiritual world in connexion with them."

(10) J. W. Wickwar, Witchcraft and the Black Art, London, 1925, p. 188.

(11) Montague Summers, The History of Witchcraft and Demonology, London, 1926, p. 8.

(12) Jean Bodin, De la Demonomanie des Sorciers, Paris, 1580.

(13) Summers, l.c., p. 1.

(14) Blackmore, l.c., p. 158.