Review/Comments by Readers of "Spiritual Shackles"

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!
swahiliinstitute@aol.com 

 KaAma
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 

KaAma
LoEspinola 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.
****************************************
 

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.
Antoinette
*********************************************
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!
Respect!,
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,

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.
Sincerely
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.
 

Anastasia
*************************************
 

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!
***************************************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.
Eric.
**************************************
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
Ajamu,
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.
Gene
 

[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,
Janet
*******************************************
 

 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
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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
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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.
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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.
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 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.
Sincerely
Bruce and Mary Glover
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 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.
 

Anastasia
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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
Rambles.NET
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 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!
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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.
Maverick
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55 - Beverly Pechin
Location: Austin TX
Date: Nov-10-2006
Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views (10/06) Austin TX Email: readersreview.com
 

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.
readersreview.com
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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
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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.
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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!
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 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.
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 Barbara Lingens
Reviewed for; Bookloons.com
 

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
Jumal,
 

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!
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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.
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G.B.S.
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.
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 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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