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Spiritual Shackles    by Okeyo A. Jumal order for
Spiritual Shackles
by Okeyo A. Jumal
Order:  USA  Can
Griot, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

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 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 long, powerful work. I only wish the book had had the services of a copy editor. There are many mistakes in here, ones that at times interrupt the narrative, and they could easily have been corrected. The author deserved better than this, but nevertheless he has done himself and his people proud, and I hope the book gets a wide reading.

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