Renay Nailon
Location: Atlanta, GA
Date: Nov-18-2011
Thank you so much for "Spiritual Shackles". I can't even begin to explain the feelings that overcame me when reading your book. I was born and raised in Pasadena (Worcester) and my family moved to Altadena Lincoln Ave when I was around 13.

For me, being Black in Pasadena was being raised in neighborhoods where you see us but the minute you step outside of your neighborhood you cease to exist. There was no larger cultural identity or pride with which to align yourself. I was blessed to be homeschooled until I attended high school, but even in learning about African descendants, I never learned about history of descendants in my city. I'm sorry I am rambling so in closing, I thank you profusely for opening the door to a history unknown to me.

I'm overwhelmed. I just read the last page. This was truly a life changing book. It was a such powerful story of our African ancestry. I have a lot of traveling and research to do.
Thank you again.

 Simba Tayari
Location: Chicago
Date: May-14-2011
Habari Jumal,
The book was great, excellent!. Contact me about getting a few out here. I know some people who will love it!
Location: Atlanta, Gorgia
Date: Jan-06-2011
Greetings Brother Jumal
My name is KaAma and I met you at a gathering @ Sister Lisa's house over a year ago and you gave me a copy of your book...Well I finally read it and enjoyed it so much I had to write and tell you about it..I have also completed a book called Journey to Zion scheduled for release later this year..Still going through the editing process. Just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration to write about my life's journey and the historical information about Pasadena was wonderful..I didn't know all that about Pasadena if I did maybe I would have stayed...LOL!!! I live in Georgia...I will be ordering a few more copies soon for others, they will definitely enjoy this book.
Blessings KaAma
 Monica young
Location: Denver, CO
Date: Dec-14-2010
Date: Jul-03-2009
Good Morning Okeyo Jumal,

I decided it was in my best interest to google your name this morning, with amazement I found I have never been so marbled by one man's ability. Usually, I start reading, my ADHD kicks in and I get side tracked but you are a scholar. It is a rarity to discover an author as talented as you, your words are unscriptedly emotionally vivid taken the reader's pupils into colorful scenery on caravas. Let's just say I am speechless. At one point in my life in creative writing class, I wrote as 1/2 as descriptive as you but writer's block has lead me into an unenchantable direction of street lit. My most treasured bookmark is now because this statement is so true, "descriptive images that you feel transported right into the middle of the story." My passion is writing and now I have a tanglible goal as a writer... Your writing has reinvigorated little old me, I can just image how others will feel in a similar situation.

Thanks for sharing and I will keep in touch.

Monica "Ywndricka" Young
Synthia Sharpe
Location: Temecula, CA
Date: Aug-29-2010
I read Spiritual Shackles, sugested reading from my sister Pamela Sharpe. I just couldn't put it down. I want to thank you for such gifted writing. It touched my soul. Cynthia Sharpe
Keith Thompson
Location: Pasadena/Altadena CA
Date: Jun-23-2010
Thank you for writing this great historical novel. It completely engrossed me. I grew up in Pasadena. Graduated from Muir. Graduated from Berkeley in AfrAm studies. Had an opportunity to visit Bahia -Pelourhino, Salvador... and I am still on a journey of growing awareness. My uncle shared the book with me and I am very grateful. Thanks for the inspiration.
Espinola Taylor
Location: Pasadena/Altadena CA
Date: Apr-18-2010
You probably don't remember me. I met you at the Black History parade in Pasadena. I just want to tell you about your book. It is the most enlightening book that I have read yet. I can relate to parts of the book even though I was not born and raised here in Pasadena. I am just about through with the book and then I will pass it on to my sister. But that is one book that I will keep in my library.

Dana Grace

Location: Los Angeles
Date: Mar-25-2010
Name: Dana Grace
Dear Mr. Jumal,
Jazz is a favorite genre of mine to listen to when I'm stressed out or just relaxing with a good book. The website is great and I love the music that was playing on your site. Don't ever take that song out! Keep writing wonderful page turners for readers like me to enjoy any time of the day.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Dana Grace

Pamela Sharpe

Location: Pasadena/Altadena CA
Date: Dec-30-2009
Dear O. Ajamu Jumal,
First, I must say thank goodness our paths crossed at the Jazz Fest West this past summer. I started not to go because I knew it would be “hotter than july” in San Dimas at the time. Well, it was worth me burning up in the sun that day in order to enjoy the treasures of this wonderful book. I’m almost embarrassed to say “life got in the way” and I am just recently able to open this book up and now I can’t seem to put it down! Maybe it’s the wonderful writing or the fact that I have lived in Altadena/Pasadena for the past 23 years and feel like this is a part of my history, combined with the fact that some of the founders of Pasadena were fellow Hoosiers looking for a warm climate in the winter season like myself.

All being said, I am on the chapter “Chitlin ‘n’ Roses” right now while listening to a recorded interview with you and InsideScoopLive. Yep, can’t get enough. J I’m passing this wonderful gem on to my family and friends knowing that they will get the same reaction as I have, joy, curiosity and pure excitement to what the next chapter will bring.

Keep up the great work and I’ll be looking for the next generation of drama. You can’t stop here!
Pamela Sharpe

Erica Kopplin

Location: Sacramento, CA
Date: May-05-2009
Name: Erica Kopplin
I am one of the bi-racial children that was born in 1954 and was rised on Howard St/Lincoln. I read your book and knew people of which you were referring to in the book. I learned so much history as my mother never talked out our roots. My Aunt was Esther Jones who lived on Mountain Street off Lincoln in the huge home there that was once owned by Dr Bolin. My girlfriend belonged to another set of Jones' and her father remembers alot about some of the events that was happening back then. My older sister is the daughter of the minister from Friendship, my mothers first husband Rev Calmore. I would love to find out more about the history of Pasadena as everyone who we can ask have pasted on or very elderly and their memory have gone. My first husband's family were the Ezells( they were in the plumming business).
I really enjoyed your book and would love to hear from you.

Esther Bradley-DeTally

Location: Pasadena, CA
Date: Oct-07-2008
I discovered a new author, O. Ajamu Jumal, at a reading at La Pintoresca Library, in Pasadena, CA. The book is Spiritual Shackes.
O. Ajamu Jumal is a profound and knowledgeable writer. When I heard him, the lid to my head flew off, and his writing reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible, or the multidimensional pieces of the great writer Toni Morrison.
I am aflame knowing about this book; he's African-American, and I'm a 70 year old white lady, but one who has African American sisters and brothers of all ages in my communities. this book deserves to be reviewed.
I am a writer too, and as such, I wish the moon and the stars for writers who are wonderful.
Thank you and your staff for all you do! I hope this email reaches someone. The book is amazing.
Antoinette Salvadori
Location: Los Angeles CA
Date: Jul-12-2008
It has been several weeks since I met you at Brian's CANVAS event. I promised I would read your book and I have. The first chpater was so rich that I was invested from the moment I began. I loved the characters and your ability to tell this story is amazing. You truly are gifted. Thank you for writing this wonderful book. I have recommended it to many of my friends.
All my best.
Tichaona M. Chinyelu
Location: Boston
Date: May-05-2008
History is readable...again! by Tichaona Chinyelu
I heard O. A. Jumal talk about Spiritual Shackles on a Blogtalk radio program. The way he described the book had me salvating to read it! When I finally got in my hands, I didn't put it down until I finished it.
As a Lover of Afrikan/Black history, I have been suffering from a lack of reading material that incorporated our history in a literary milieu. Spiritual Shackles satisfied that need and more. It also introduced African spiritual beliefs and practices in a manner that is very rooted in the every day lives of more than everyday people. I loved ALL the character...except for one who I honestly believe got everything he deserved.
Spiritual Shackles is so multi-layered I could go on and on about it and still never do it the justice it did me and our beautiful history.
Thank you so much for this Soul satisfying, delightful read!
Tichaona Munhamo Chinyelu
 Swaggie Coleman
Location: Gwynn Oak, MD
Date: Mar-10-2008
A VILLAGE WITHOUT TIME: A Book Review of Spiritual Shackles By Swaggie Coleman

Jumal Okeyo Jumal is an exceptionally gifted storyteller. He has mastered the art of being a Griot in a strongly gripping fashion. Jumal proves that historical fiction can indeed be a page-turner and if you thirst for more knowledge and understanding of the African-American culture and history, it is all laid out in this tome. Beginning with the burning church in 1954 and the discovery of strange stones in its charred aftermath, Jumal builds a story from the point of view of the “Negroes” living on the west coast: Pasadena, California. Readers will engage all the senses of seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and even tasting as influences from the south take root out west. Segregation, Jim Crow, and the Emmit Till killing are replaced with Black Pride, Black Politics, Black Panthers, Nappy Feminism, and Juneteenth Day. You will be intrigued to see how the common folk of Ebonyville survived the civil rights era. What did they really think about the March on Washington, DC and how was Nelson Mandela tied to San Francisco’s “raggedy” sister, Oakland? Are barber shops and beauty salons truly educational pit stops or simply rumor mills?

Early in the book, Author Jumal primarily focuses on a foster family where the matriarch builds black history teachings by using the mortar of timeless wisdom, love, and spiritual gifts. What Vyemia Quentina-Carver, more affectionately known as “Mama Vye” accomplished was raising irrefutable “divine” foster children, children who just might hold the key to some ultimate secrets.

Spiritual Shackles becomes the one-stop resource for intertwining stories about every day black people faced with cultural issues such as light skinned versus dark skinned, race riots following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., feminism, religion, adultery, romance, and ultimately family debauchery when mismatched twin brothers seem destined to harm one another. You will laugh and cry and even pray from chapter to chapter.

The real treat for readers is when Jumal takes you inside the Village to Pops CJ’s Vernon Avenue address. Vernon Avenue is where it all began, the one-of-a-kind Juneteenth, plantation slave costume ball – “Da Ball.” The Village guests arrive transformed into house Negroes, yard Negroes, or field “niggas.” There’s blues in the air and Nina Simone singing; there’s “nigress’s” complete with wide-hoop southern belle dresses; look-alike Aunt Jemima mammies, and Uncle-Ben butlers. There are rebellious spirits clad as Nat Turner, David Walker, Denmark Vesey, and Harriet Tubman! Da Ball becomes one helluva hip-gyrating, down-home, country-fried, feet-stomping, anything-goes-in-the-back-room kind of party! However, when anything goes happens on the main dance floor between twin brothers, Priest Lionel and Rev. Rondell, and the youngest “divine” child, Jadi, who is now sensuously all grown up, it is time go deep, deep back in African spiritual history.

Author O. Ajamu Jumal has weaved such exciting and interesting history into the lives of these characters that final closure is embraced from those most skeptical of things spiritual; to blind faith believers. Your mind will dance with our ancestors and embrace all their spirits!

Chanel Perry
Location: Atlanta GA
Date: Feb-26-2008
Uncle Jumal,

What a journey! I just finished Spiritual Shackles and I'm thrilled. The novel was crafted beautifully and I learned so much. I thought a lot about Dr. Frances Cress Welsing's book, The Isis Papers (my favorite) while reading your novel. Recently I have been reading a lot about world religions in an effort to find a place that feels comfortable. I hope to continue my research with what I've learned from you.

What I learned about my great-grandmother was difficult to read. While at Spelman I learned so much about the connections between familial generations, especially women. Thinking about the difficulties faced by the women before in the family makes me feel stronger. Your novel offers peace to those searching for the past.

My favorite parts of the novel were the history lessons on Black California and the African Diaspora.

I am so proud of you. I shined each time someone asked about the book I was reading. I'd say, "My uncle crafted this." Those interested in what I was reading seemed most intrigued by the title.

All my love for the uncle I don't spend enough time with, but feel I'm most like.

Always, Chanel

 Amanda Seon-Walker
Location: Los Angeles CA
Date: Feb-11-2008

I received copy of your book at the Community Day Fair at Southwest College. I read your book (yes in a week) and as promised I am sending you my thoughts.

This Book is excellent! As an avid reader I knew this would be well written from the opening lines, but I was not prepared for how well put together it would be. Your blend of historical data with fiction is remarkable. It was like reading a series of historical books without the boring repetition. A lot of the information I already knew from reading other such books, but this was quite well done.

I have recommended this book to all my friends who enjoy reading. I am also going to recommending it for the book list of Achieving Leadership's Purpose which is a Leadership group in which I participated as a child. I wish you great luck with this book, but I know you do not need it because your work speaks for itself!

Keep up the good work,
Amanda Seon-Walker, PsyD
 Sharel E. Gordon-Love
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Date: Feb-08-2008
Your book was reviewed and posted to Amazon, given five out of five stars!

Author O. Ajamu Jumal penned a wonderful story filled with African American history from slavery to the present, a novel filled with pertinent facts concerning the progression, successes and failures of our people.

Pasadena, California is the setting of this historical novel. African Americans migrated to from southern states to work as domestics in the homes of wealthy white families, while at the same time, securing better living for themselves. One character in particular, Mama Vye, is most intriguing. She possesses a warm yet mysterious aura that unfolds gradually as she takes in four abandoned children as her own and develops a close relationship with a fifth child, the son of her closest friend. As the five children grow to adulthood, they become the engine that drives the story.

Spiritual Shackles tells of history, from music, to the style of dress, to the attitudes and awareness of the times. The Nation of Islam, Marcus Garvey, Muhammad Ali, Pentecostalism, and African Folklore interweaved through the pages of the book, most in intricate detail that paints a griping picture of church fires, race riots, while personalities such as Malcolm X and Alex Haley, to name two of many, vividly appear. There is also a strange drink known has pink tea.

This novel is an African American history lesson told through the lives of the children fostered by Mama Vye. As they grow, they find themselves on paths that at times unite; yet other times go separate ways to tell the story that is Spiritual Shackles.

I recommend Spiritual Shackles to anyone who loves reading, loves a good story, and loves a good book and especially those who enjoy African American history and Folklore. O. Ajamu Jumal is the griot extraordinaire.

Reviewed by Sharel E. Gordon-Love

APOOO Book Club

 Maryam Shabazz
Location: Washington D.C.
Date: Dec-25-2007
Hotep Baba Jumal
As-salaam alaykum

This is the sister that you took the time with at ASALH in North Carolina.

I LOVED Spiritual Shackles. The back cover art [slave breaking rack,Dutch Suriname, circa 1734] seems to sum up the novel. It speaks of pain, of femininity and potential recovery. This novel centers around the figure of Mama Vye, a goddess among us in the flesh, the kind of woman who is common enough to be recognized, yet rare enough to be appreciated. Vye is every Afrikan woman who is comfortable with her sensuality, yet chastely. She is every Momma who listens to the ancestors and takes in young ones even if they weren't from her womb. She is a traveler, her mind ranges across the planet. She understands the fundamental anchor of the Orishas and deity in the form of "life."

Yet before we meet Mama Vye, we readers are exhorted to honor those who leapt off the slave ships. "Those who leapt," speak through each page as a masterful explanation of the 1960's as the search for Black Power and Black Pride unfolds. Mama Vye's children grow up in a tumultuous era, discover the tenuous throbs of their own divinity and survive; survive to reconstitute the stable family unit.

I read this 520-page novel in two days because it's not possible to put it down! The prose just sucked me in and I found myself reflecting upon the strength of Black people in the Americas [diaspora], including myself as I read. This novel is pure medicine.

Ashe, Baba Okeyo Jumal!


 Eric Burroughs
Location: Los Angeles CA
Date: Dec-10-2007
Hello, Mr. Jumal

My name is Eric Burroughs and I met you at Zahra's bookstore on La Brea Ave. Your book is outstanding. It was hard for me to put the book down. I learned so much about the History of Pasadena, Black power movement, Malcom X, Ali, Oaklands history of Mandela and on and on. Is alot of this history about you? I can't find the words to describe Mama Vye. I grew up in Savannah Georgia and when you talked about the Gullah people it brought tears to my eyes because as a child I would take boat rides to this little island off of south carolina each summer and the ladies would be dressed in white all of them darkskinned wearing white with the beautiful smiles and they would tell me small stories because the boat only stopped there for an hour or so. Did you go down to the rain forest? I have books on Osiris and Isis as well. Hopefully I'll get to talk to you soon but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book.

Thank You.

Peter Latham
Location: Pasadena CA
Date: Nov-21-2007
Pasadena Now: Weekly Magazine

This [novel] story meshes real events with the fictional account of five energetic siblings clashing with the turbulent and sometimes wonderful times of Juneteenth celebrations, Black pride rallies, city riots and even spiritual conversions.

Jumal has showcased his remarkable writing ability by capturing the heart of his characters; from maids, chauffeurs and preachers, to Panthers, Muslims and Black Nationalists. Punctuating his storytelling with prominent figures key to the times like Miles Davis, Alex Haley, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X, a clever Jumal weaves a plot that digresses into history to bring the present in better focus. He finds a voice in the colorful banter manifesting in bars and barbershops; and just as effortlessly disappears into the steep canyons of Suriname, or the tropical rain forest of Brazil. This journey intertwines smoothly with a suspenseful love affair that is richly anchored in ancient African lore.

This is an American history book brilliantly disguised as a novel. Jumal, a long time history teacher, held true to his goal of telling a story that would expose the emotions of a people, and leave a visceral impression on its readers. His paradigm of a Black focus is powerful and clear. "Spiritual Shackles" is downright gritty, and unequivocally riveting.

Gene Cartwright
Location: Houston, TX
Date: Oct-25-2007
Finished your book back in August. Sorry it took so long to get back with you, I’ve been on the road constantly. I love the book! You are a master storyteller and word artisan, a writer of the first magnitude. 'Spiritual Shackles' is a forceful, well-conceived and superbly written literary work that placed me right in the middle of the reality its reading creates. The no-holds barred, naked truth presentation deserves to be widely read. It should be in every school library...Required reading.

You should be proud of what you have achieved, and be encouraged to continue with more outstanding literary works.


[Note. Author Gene Cartwright has written several novels, including “I Never Played Catch With My Father” for which he appeared on Oprah and her book list…His latest (Pulitzer Prize Nominee) and signature offering is “A Family Gathering”.]


Janet Tyler-Lummer

Location: Alicante, Spain
Date: Oct-24-2007
I finished the book and it is wonderful! You should seriously consider writing another one. Your book should be in every college Black Studies Department on a mandatory reading list, and especially in the traditional black colleges.
I gave it a friend to read. Your book also needs to be on Oprah's book club list? I just love this book, and Oprah MUST get a copy of this and Denzel, John Singleton, Spike, Kasi Lemons,Shirley Jo Finney. This is such movie material. She [Oprah] lives in Santa Barbara [my hometown] and I have a friend that knows where she lives and she could put your book in front of her mailbox!!!
(smile)With Love,

 Rose Mitchell
Location: Los Angeles CA
Date: Oct-22-2007
Mr. Jumal,
Please accept our sincere gratitude for a wonderful and enlightening book discussion on Saturday. You are certainly a dynamic writer and your characters are so true to life.
I anticipate no problem in getting your book cataloged into the County of Los Angeles Library System and I will recommend that they be placed in several of our locations.
Again, thank you for writing this important book, and for honoring us with your presence on Saturday.
Yours truly,

Rose Mitchell

Black Resource Center Librarian
Los Angeles, CA

Ann Mann

Location: Charlotte, NC
Date: Oct-22-2007
Hello Ajamu,

[We talked at the Association of African-American Life and History Convention(ASALH) in Charlotte NC and you were sold out of books. You said you would send me a copy.] I received your book just a few days ago.Thank you so much for this copy. You will receive payment during the upcoming week. Also, I am going to order more copies for members of my family.

I am now reading Chapter 10 which is about the Gentry family. Although the content of the reading is very serious, I am enjoying your novel with lots of tears and laughter.

This is a book that should be on the reading list for all high school English classes. I am sure some of the colleges and universities would love to use this as a required reading.The information in the novel reminds us and teaches us what we are facing within our lives everyday. Your novel helps us to understand why we continue to make some of the same decisions over and over during our lifetime.

Ann Mann
Etherero Akinshegun
Location: Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Date: Oct-22-2007
Bro. Okeyo A. Jumal, Shalom.

I greet you in perfect love and peace. I was so pleased that you thought of me and sent me a copy of your very well written and intelligent work; Spiritual Shackles. It was a marvel to read. And some of the scenes [at Pasadena C.C., in Oakland and in Berkeley] were very, very familiar. I got to talking about your book with an acquaintance, who started reading it and I haven't seen it since! She got so engrossed she forgot to return it I'm sure. By now I deduce she forgot where it came from.
At any rate, my congratulations and prayers for continued success and prosperity.
Bro. Akinshegun

Ardelia Wright
Location: Pasadena CA
Date: Sep-26-2007

This book is one of the best that I have read! With references to my hometown and history at the same time, I am enthralled and can hardly put it down. I thank you for sending it to me. I haven't finished it yet, but have sent many folks to your website and to the bookstore to buy the book. "Spiritual Shackles" is an apropos name. I have laughed, I have cried and I have said I know exactly where and who he is speaking about. I am thoroughly enjoying this. I cannot thank you enough. When I finish, I will be passing this copy along to my son, but quite a few folks will be receiving a wonderful Christmas or Kwanzaa gift. Thanks again.
687 - Jerry Tivey
Location: San Bernardino, CA, USA
Date: Sep-11-2007
Jumal, I want to personally commend you for writing such a fine novel. It is full of history, epic history and lives of so many who have had an impact on, specifically, Southern Californian history. It is an enlightening, entertaining and delightful journey that you've taken us through. I enjoyed every chapter and couldn't stand to put it down. I recommend it to everyone I get into a book discussion with.

Great job, hope there's more to follow.
 Bruce Glover
Location: Indianapolis, IN 46226-3159
Date: Aug-02-2007
A picture is worth a 1000 words; the words in your book are worth a 1000 pictures.

Thank you for such a wonderful read.
Bruce and Mary Glover

 Anastaisa Bain
Location: Berlin, Germany
Date: Jul-01-2007
Hi Jumal,

I finished the book this afternoon and I loved every moment of the journey. If I had to guess which one of the characters was based on your life, I would pick Stoney aka Sadeke. Your book clarified misconceptions I had growing up as a child in Harlem. I attended a Black Roman Catholic school called Resurrection from 1st to 8th grade ( 1967-1975.) After the 4th grade, we got a new Black pastor, named Father Lawrence E. Lucas, who wrote the book "Black Priest, White Church. When I came back to start the 5th grade, he had dismissed all of the White nuns and hired all Black lay teachers and made it a rule that in order to graduate from the school, one had to pass Black Studies, Religion, and English.
This was in 1971. I never understood then why he gave political sermons on Sunday mornings. Instead of singing the National Anthem as known to most White Americans, we sang the 1st verse of Lift Every Voice and Sing in the schoolyard every single morning. We had assemblies that consisted of commemorations to various heroes such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, etc. By the time I got to the 8th grade we had read Black Voices and learned about African Kings such as Mansa Musa. Back then, I thought every school in Harlem was required to teach Black Studies. It was not until I compared notes with my Afrocentric friends years later, that I found out they never had that opportunity that I took for granted.

I have sent an email to several friends,referring them to your website. Thank you so much for sending me this book.

Risa Duff
Location: Atlantic Coast, Canada
Date: Jun-28-2007
Spiritual Shackles is a most intriguing story that juxtaposes fiction and fact. Historian Okeyo A. Jumal uses deft precision in drawing on his knowledge of black American history whilst creating contemporary mystic and magical characters.

The story begins with a series of unexplained church fires. Gradually, characters are introduced chapter by chapter in an episodic fashion. The central theme is based around five children, who for different reasons had been temporarily abandoned by their families and put in foster care with Mama Vye, a spiritual woman who embraces African cultures and healing remedies. Always referring to her wards as "divine children," we find that these children grow into influential anti-establishment adults who question political and religious taboo. They mingle with the top black figures in America, and names such as Malcolm X, Mohammed Ali and Alex Haley are affiliated with Vye's foster offspring.

The beauty of this novel is that there are many love affairs and stories entwined with the historical aspects of the novel. We have treacherous sibling rivalry between brothers Lionel and Rondell, which leads to tragedy. Stoney and Rachel (who eventually adopt more African names) embark on a journey to discover their buried roots. And there are mystical and metaphorical themes that are omnipresent throughout these stories of exotic locations and people.

I also loved how the children rediscover their biological parents and how the reader finds out the true reasons for their abandonment. The novel comes full circle in the end and the characters attain a true epiphany, through a mental out-of-body experience that takes them through the past, present and future.

Although a long book, it never becomes prosaic or has its intensity mitigated. Stick with it, as you will not be disappointed. I would not be surprised if it is picked up for a Hollywood film.

by Risa Duff

 Sydeny Molare
Location: Mississippi
Date: Feb-24-2007
Mr. Jumal,
You graciously sent me Spriitual Shackles a few months ago. However, I only began reading it last week. My Goodness! What a novel! You broadened my mind, my horizon, my soul. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful contribution! I will take the time to write a review and sing your praises loud and long! Please let me know if you plan to tour anywhere in the South. I'd love to meet you. I can't wait to read your next one. I'm hooked!

Wonderful Historical Novel, February 16, 2007
Reviewer:    Sydney Molare "I am who I am...and ONLY that person..." (Mississippi!) - See all my reviews
Spritual Shackles is one of the best contributions to African American literature I've read in many years. It's story spans three generations surrounding one main character, CJ a crusty newspaperman. Through his life and the lives of those that enter his and his wife, Roxie, we are transported through history. And a wonderful job he did in taking us on the ride. From the Jim Crow era to Y2K, you lived with the family on Vernon avenue, shared their pains, their triumps and saw how their lives paralleled our own.

While many lament the page count, I, myself, found this novel to be too short. At the end of the 500 pages, I'm still thirsty for the next installment if there is to be one. Hats off to you Mr. Jumal! You've stimulated my desire in reading like none other has done recently. This novel is destined to become required reading for anyone of African ancestry. Kudos again!

Maverick Ulmer
Location: indianapolis, indiana
Date: Dec-08-2006
I enjoyed reading Spiritual Shackles from page one to the very end of page 501. Jumal transcends time and space to immerse the reader in a kaleidoscope of history. My five senses were reeling from the five spirits and the host of other souls that come alive to greet the reader, sending you on a most wonderful trip not soon forgotten. The storyline, depth, nature and the history allows the reader to understand how our lifeways are fused at the hip in our collective struggle to free our minds. So one should sit back and relax with a cup of tea (pink) and enjoy this beautifully written book.
Our journey in this life is defined by our ability to rise above the strange culture that has estranged us from our spirituality. Okeyo A. Jumal in his book Spiritual Shackles has meld the past, present and future of the African Diaspora. History as orally written by this griot comes alive to take the reader where the five senses of the metaphysical reveal the revelation of the seven seals that the bible allegorically speaks, clairvoyance and seership being the other two that make up the seven, thus revealing our desire to grasp our history of self. To cipher the knowledge of the journey in this odyssey one must be a palm tree as the character Mama Vye states and not an oak. You must be able to bend with the ever changing directional wind as the five main spirits joyously and painfully seek out to reclaim their redemption to Know Thyself. To travel in this time machine one must know the definition of the word catharsis, which is a technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed memories to consciousness. Repression can be compared to hypnotically induced amnesia, where individuals and groups of people are directed to forget specific information, then instructed to forget they have forgotten. Jumal’s Mama Vye and Baba Zumbi use the powerful amulet necklaces to retrieve these memories, undoing and correcting the con in the manipulation thereby restoring the confidence which enlighten the reader to the sin of lies so that one can sincerely know of the painful and joyous truths in our history. One truly knows a griot has evolved to an oracle of illumination, so much so that Gnostic Sage should be bestowed upon Jumal. When you no longer are watching the lives unfold before you, because you have stepped off the time machine into the matrix of the history unfolding before your eyes…seership comes to mind. “We steal what a man (culture) has, then murders him to conceal the crime.” Jumal eloquently returns the culture that has been stolen from the African Diaspora, so that the physical and mental genocide cannot be concealed any longer. I cried, laughed and loved essentially because of the metempsychosis or transmigration of my soul into the lives of the spirits of those souls who unveil a part of our history, so that I might free my mind from some of the shackles of deception.
55 - Beverly Pechin
Location: Austin TX
Date: Nov-10-2006
Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views (10/06) Austin TX Email:

It is rare to look at a book that contains over 500 pages and turn the last page wishing there was more, yet Mr. Jumal has a way of making you want the story to continue on forever. While the story itself is anything but incomplete, it truly creates an atmosphere of depth that goes beyond reading an ordinary book and makes the reader want more.

A combination of gritty reality and intricate fiction, Jumal tells of the times and lives of a
community known as "Ebonyville" as if it were happening while you read. Dealing with a time when racial riots were common and blacks had to fight for everything they had, he manages to weave in the intricate love and visions of his characters while sharing their trials and tribulations as they strive to become more than anyone had imagined 'people of their kind' could be.

As he takes you through the lives of five children into their adult lives, you will come to love, hate and feel so deeply for them. It's unimaginable that you can walk away from this story without a deluge of feelings. As they grow from infancy to adulthood, their caretaker, "Mama Vye", uses her unusual as well as unconventional ways and beliefs to create solid human beings out of children who others may otherwise give up. Mama Vye, instead, teaches them their roots and their value as African Americans by investing her love, time and efforts into their lives.

With a story that weaves love, hate, horror, deceit and mystery together you will dive into the book with heart and soul once you meet the characters. Was it coincidence that these five children are brought into Mama Vye's life or was it destiny?

Every page you turn takes you deeper and deeper into the lives and ways of these people, while sharing their moments of gratitude, happiness and grieving. While you see the reality of the world as it was during those times, you will walk away wondering how we survived as a nation with such a huge amount of hatred in the homes and businesses of what we called a 'free nation'. As you read about the lives of those involved, you will come to realize we are all truly human in so many of the same ways, including strength when we most think we have none left.

Absolutely riveting, touching and downright gritty reality make this a must read book for everyone. As a touch of history combines with a realistic touch of fiction, you will watch a story of life, itself, unfold and walk away a more complete human being.
Linda Nelson
Location: New Jersey
Hi there, Jumal,
I read the review and I am so excited for you.
Having seen the draft long before you put it out there,
it is such a pleasure for me to see a brother
move his talent and gift in this way. You have done it!
Peace and Blessings, Linda
Gwen Elliot
Location: Philly, PA 6/15/06
[Spiritual] Shackles touched me on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin. The first, of course, was the Pasadena connection. I was taken back to all the fun days we had in the late 60's and all through the 70's, the charged political arena, and the esoteric conversations that went on for days.

Always the teacher, Jumal, Shackles is a font of information, spanning generations and subjects. Things you'd thought you had forgotten came alive as if they happened yesterday. Malcolm's struggle, the Panthers, the campus happenings, the riots. And things you never knew about like the Tulsa race riot and the whole African odyssey.

I loved all the characters. I thought they were all well fleshed out. You understood them. Of course, Mama Vye was my favorite, but Rukia was running neck and neck. I loved her discourse with Dr. Jackson [the atheist].

The book overall was a joy to read. I didn't want it to end. As I mentioned before, you brought everything to life. The tastes, the sounds, the soul of the times. And since I've read it, I'm amazed at how frequently my mind refers back to it as I encounter different little aspects of life. I'm still assimilating what I've read and I'm sure it will take some time to do so fully.

Jumal, this is a beautiful book, the stories, the writing, and of course the history.
Tami Brady/Qetesh
Location: New York, NY 6/9/06
Reviewed by Qetesh for TCM Reviews Newsletter 6.9.06

Spiritual Shackles is a mesmerizing book, which delves deeply into African history and folklore. CJ Johnson a local reporter is trying to uncover the identity of an arsonist who is setting a series of church fires in Pasadena, California. As he embarks on this personal journey, each new clue leads him to meet an array of fascinating characters that all share a unique connection. They are all drawn together by Mama Vye who is a woman steeped in mysticism that is feared by the locals. Overall, this is an amazing portrait of historical events and the way that lives interweave and entwine together. It contains suspense, mystery, mystical/ spiritual elements, drama, romance, and a rich cultural backdrop with engaging characters that makes it hard to put down. Excellent reading! You don't want to miss this one!

 Nicole Holman
Reviewed for Divas Read2
Diva Reviewer - Nicole Holman

Spiritual Shackles by Okeyo A Jumal is a book about the impact that ancient and current religions have on our lives. He discusses this subject gently and with some surprise to the turn of events.

This novel is two books in one. Part one sets up the scenario for all the characters but is strong enough to stand alone. Part two dealt with the main characters as adults and their self discovery which is really where you get a sense of the relation to the title of the book. Author Jumal went into the Nation of Islam and the demise of that era, Islam, Christianity, tradition African beliefs, political radicals and activism, and education with self improvement. The way that he made the characters come to life was wonderful and you could identify with them and their life events.

The premise of the novel is that all religions started from the ancient religions that Christians called paganism when they were introducing Christianity to the "savages". The book delve deep into a specific subset of African religion dealing with Aya, Isis, and Osiris, which is very similar to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Mary. In the biblical stories there are very striking resemblances to the afore mentioned entities and they were here (walked on Earth) thousands of years before Jesus.

This was a great novel for the educational value and it had a none offending twist, but I think it would have been better if it were broken into two books.

Through out the novel there was education about prior events in African American history and the celebration of such things. It became a recurrent theme that we have to continue to tell our story to our children so that they are not forgotten and so that the tale lives on. There is a character in the book, Rukia, who studies anthropology and African history. This combination brings out the wonderful accomplishments of Africans did before coming to America including religious beliefs before Christianity was forced on them as a method to keep them enslaved.
 Barbara Lingens
Reviewed for;

In this wonderful book of stories, spun by an accomplished storyteller. We are shown contemporary black history from the blacks' point of view. Through characters etched with warts and all, we learn what life is like when you are the minority and what a person needs to do to survive and how one has to hide his true feelings.

Author Jumal provides the background to this by taking us back not to Africa, but surprisingly, to South America to the time before 'the evil with the large white sails came.' He does this through the stories of five young people and one remarkable woman.

Through these richly developed characters we are able to see an amazing variety in contemporary black life. As their lives grow together, apart and together again, we learn about a history that had to be denied or perpetuated in secret. And we see how those who believe and hope to persevere must go back to their roots to find the freedom, creativity and understanding to move toward the future.
This is a rich and powerful work, and I certainly hope this book gets a wide reading.
 Janet Pope-Givens
Location: Pasadena, CA

I met you through Adelaide and received a copy of your book, Spiritual Shackles.

I absolutely loved it and couldn't help but think as I read it, that it should be scripted for a movie. I read the biography of Hattie McDaniel immediately afterward and the overlapping of historical information, the validation of our history and struggles and spending time with folks "who were there" in a matter if speaking (I was visiting with my parents when I read both) made me ever so grateful that you documented it. Thanks for a great read and I'll look for the movie!
We Be Bookin' Book Club
Location: Oakland CA. 8/17/06
Spiritual Shackles is a unique volume of historical fiction. The author of this novel, historian, writer, educator, and griot, O. Ajamu Jumal has woven the stories of many characters into a beautiful cloth with but a few missed stitches. The writer has created a rich story and developed varied situations that cause you to think as you read. He presents a story that brings up topics, times and situations that readers will talk about as they read, and discuss long after they’ve has turned the last page and closed the book.

Mama Vye, one of the most important fictional characters in the book, touches the lives of numerous characters, especially five young children. And it is through these young people that the writer takes his readers on a journey through African American political, social and cultural life; while at the same time introducing many important historical figures. The author develops his story in an interesting and exciting way, beginning in Pasadena, California in the early 1950’s and spans decades through the 21st century. The story crosses the continents of North America, South America and Africa, with some stories that flash back hundreds of years in time.

I like the way the writer uses figures of speech and presents different perspectives on issues such as family, color, race relations, community, religion and historical objectivity. He has also developed the vivid descriptions of historical events that allow you to see the streets and feel the atmosphere. For other places that are unfamiliar, the author writes in such as way that makes the reader want to learn more. The book is very lively with real dialogue and griot Jumal has filled the pages with love, action, drama and suspense.

Given the size of the book, you may find reading it again to be valuable, given its richness. It might even to advantageous so as not to miss anything. It will surely provide much to talk about in a book club meeting. I highly recommend Spiritual Shackles. It is a major piece of African American literature and historical fiction that you will truly enjoy wrapping yourself around.
Location: San Francisco Bay Area 7/7/06
I just finished the book. The blending of history and fiction was very well done. I think I was at the Black Unity Day described in the novel. I also think I've been on the block of Telegraph Avenue. Brother Jumal gas created a story that is well written and captures your interest. I was inspired to read about Suriname and the Bush Negroes and guess what I saw Zebras. I was greatly moved by the ending and how going down the Stony Road can take you up. I have a lot to tell members of my book club when I present a "book talk" on it later this month. It was excellent read and I will recommend we read it has a club.
 Larry Walls
Location: San Jose, CA 6/23/06
This is a great book. I have not been able to put it down. It informed of things I only had peripheral knowledge of. I loved your characters and was enthralled with the information on Brazil and Suriname.

I was right there in the time period [and locations] you write about. I lived in Berkeley/Oakland, went to U.C. Berkeley, graduated from San Jose State[known affectionately has speed city], and Hastings Law School in San Francisco. I knew the Panthers, went to the San Jose Mosque, admired Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, knew Ron Karenga, and the Black Nationalist that started the New African School in San Jose. Therefore, your book is almost like an autobiography. You talked the significant events, the Martin Luther King assassination, assassination of Malcolm X, but [being from San Jose] I would have liked for you to have mentioned the 1968 Olympic Boycott and Black Glove Salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

This is an extraordinary work, very well done!

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