Joseph, the man pictured on the left, is one of the most feared and respected men in Manchester Jamaica and all of its outlying parish. You see, Joseph is an obeah man. What is obeah you may ask? Obeah is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from Central African and West African origins. Or as Joseph explains, "I know about obeah, voodoo, Arabic and Kabbalah. White magic is what it is called..."
In an excellent and informative article in the Jamaica Gleaner from June 28th of this year, staff writer Joseph Lalah paid the obeah man a visit and with utmost respect I shall henceforth quote directly from the article... which is available online in its entirety here.
"...I asked Joseph about the services he performs for his clients.
"You name it man. Anything you want done for you I will do it. If you want a visa I have something for that. If you woman leave you I can get her back for you. If you have a court case I will deal with that too," Joseph pounded his fist into his palm as he spoke and his eyes widened with excitement. He explained that $14,000 will get you a visa to any place in the world you'd like to visit and if the love of your life was silly enough to think she could leave you and go cavorting around town with another, he would get her back for you for a measly $7,000.
I asked Joseph how he got into the white magic business in the first place.
"Well, when I was 15 somebody try work science on me. Dem put a powder in my hymn book at church and it make my head feel like it was going to tear off! I was sick bad. I decide that I wouldn't want anybody to have that power over me again so I start to read all kind ofbooks. My father was a great science man himself as well so I learn from him and carry on the tradition. I was the only one of his children who carry on the teaching and the work for him," Joseph said.
He reached behind his bed and pulled out a small, black plastic bag. "These are some of the herbs I use," he said.
Joseph showed us bottles containing liquids that he said could cure cancer and mend broken relationships. "I perform any task the people want. If you sick I have something to heal you. Once you come here and I read you up then I can tell you how to proceed," he said."
Now you may be asking where am I going with this... read on and it'll all start making sense.
"Well you know I will take out duppy and demon out anybody because I am also an exorcist. Well, one day dem tell me that a duppy was in a young boy up the road so I take up my crystal ball and go up there. Well, when I reach I see about 70 people gather around and tell them to move. I look at the boy with the demon and realise that is the duppy of a Indian stillborn baby was in him. Anyway, I chant it out of him and when the people who gather around see what I do dem nearly faint! Dem know dat anybody who conquer a coolie (a Jamaican slang word for East Indians) duppy must powerful!" Joseph said."
Now that you're up to speed on what an obeah man does you'll have a better appreciation of the tenth track in our mix. It's a rocksteady tune, circa 1965, by legendary Jamaican music pioneer Derrick Morgan (born March 1940, Stewarton JA) and its called "Father Killam" from an excellent retrospective compilation on Heartbeat Records called Time Marches On. It is the story of an obeah man who is called on to exorcise a duppy from a woman who has suddenly fallen ill and it's perfect material for this month's theme. Unfortunately for Father Killam when he attempts to hit the duppy with a stick the evil spirit fires back. Killam ends up on the receiving end of a half a brick and to add insult to injury the duppy laughs so hard that he nearly died twice. Maybe he should have used a can of Go Away Evil.
Have a great weekend everybody... see you Monday!