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What is a duppy conqueror

Updated on October 1, 2011

What is a duppy conqueror

What is a duppy conqueror.

The history of Jamaican folklore prevails with superstitions and the so-called sign-believes. Some ordinary occurrences for non-Jamaicans may deeply concern them meaning, say, either “live” or “dye”. Superstitions pervade in all areas of their life; it goes hand in hand with religious traditions, rites, believes. People’s emotions, all what people do, the weather, - namely all that happens during the day is being interpreted by Jamaicans as hidden messages or duppies’ actions and constitute their system of believes. An interesting reading on the topic is Olive Senior’s book “The A-Z of Jamaican Heritage” published in 2003.

As we have already mentioned one of the central words in Jamaican culture, namely “duppy” let’s find out what it is and what is a duppy conqueror. The word “duppy” originated in Jamaican and stands for “spirit” or “ghost” – mainly malevolent and haunting. Jamaican - also known as Jamaican Patois, Patwa, or Jamaican Creole – has English and West African roots and a language spoken by Jamaicans. Duppies play a key role in superstitions of the Caribbean. Originally the notion appeared in Western Africa meaning souls of the dead or supernatural creatures that are able to get into living people’s bodies or animals. Jamaicans maintain that there are two souls in people and after the death the good one leave for heaven whereas the bad if not properly protected may get away from the coffin thus becoming a “duppy”.

Duppies have inspired different Jamaican musicians. Among the most popular compositions is Bob Marley’s “Duppy Conqueror”. As the story goes, Marley told Pipecock Jackxon (Lee "Scratch" Perry) he had been haunted by vampires and evil spirits after his “My Cup” song had huge success. Marley was referring to the ghosts as “duppies”. So, to this Jackxon told Marley they were “duppy conquerors”. Marley proceeded with another reggae song, namely “Duppy Conquerors”. There is another reference to the “duppy” in the “Mr. Brown” song. Other will include: "Duppy Gun" by Bunny Wailer, "Duppy Gun-Man" by Ernie Smith, Duppy or Gunman (album) by Yellowman, "Duppy Man" (Drum & Bass single) by Chase & Status, "Duppy Know Who Fi Frighten" by Demarco, and so on.

To get a better idea what emotions duppies triggered in Jamaicans, let recollect who Bob Marley was and have a better look at his “Duppy Conqueror”. Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley was a famous Jamaican musician, songwriter, and vocalist who performed in the reggae genre. His mother was black whereas the father – white, - a Jamaican of British origin. Marley grew up in Catholic tradition but one day became captivated by Rastafari – a backbone of reggae. Rastafari is a movement that sprung based on Christian tradition. People practicing Rastafari are called Rastamans. Music has had a central role is this religious tradition implying a set of believes, concepts and interpretation of universal processes. Bob Marley introduced the music of his motherland and the religion of his nation - Rastafari - to audiences worldwide. His hits include:, "No Woman, No Cry", "I Shot the Sheriff", "Could You Be Loved", "Stir It Up", "Jamming", "One Love", "Redemption Song", "Buffalo Soldier", and many other.

Bob Marley Duppy Conqeror

Duppy Conqueror


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