Griot/Historian Cleverly Shines Spotlight on African American History

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Modern day storyteller Okeyo Ajamu Jumal holds true the griot tradition with a fascinating foray into African American history in the new novel, "Spiritual Shackles." This story meshes real events with the fictional account of five energetic siblings clashing with the turbulent times of Juneteenth and Black pride rallies, city riots and spiritual conversions.

Author/historian/teacher, Okeyo Ajamu Jumal releases his compelling generational novel "Spiritual Shackles" (ISBN 0964498502). Webbed in the cultural, social and political atmosphere of the mid-20th century African-American community, this fictional account captures the earthy frustrations and raising tension that routinely stalk the African diaspora.

"Spiritual Shackles" rides the energy of an extraordinary foster-home family, through episodic narratives that move through the lives of five children as they grow from infancy into adults; children who by fate are brought together in the home of a mysteriously beautiful woman that keeps alive African spiritual beliefs. These "divine children" become avant-garde players during an unstable era by challenging established attitudes and the status quo.

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; it will undoubtedly connect today's people with their disparate past.

Okeyo Ajamu Jumal was born and raised in Pasadena, CA. He attended several colleges including Cal State University at Los Angeles and the University of California at Berkeley while receiving in the process a B.A. in History, and an M.A. in Educational Administration from the. He has taught elementary, middle and high-school history, as well as African history at Cal State College. Jumal has served as a middle and high-school vice principal, and has taught/coordinated Headstart Programs. Jumal enjoys jazz, chess, officiating track and field and travel; including extensive stays in Africa and Europe, and continuing visits to Mexico, Brazil, Belize, and the Caribbean Islands. "Spiritual Shackles" (ISBN 0964498502) can be purchased at online bookstores, or


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