“Oba’s Story: Rastafari, Purification, and Power”
George D. Colman
Published by Africa World Press.
Book Review by Stan Gotlieb
Oba’s Story tells of the life, religious development and work for justice of a Rastafarian on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. He was born Richard Jacobs in 1948, a brown West Indian subject of the British Empire but he became Ras Oba Chatoyer, a black African-in-Exile, a leader in the Rastafarian community and a political radical. Colman’s book follows the dramatic changes in Oba’s life and thought and places them in the broader context of anti-colonial movements, the emergence and growth of Rastafarians in St. Vincent, and the dynamics of social and economic justice in the islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
“George D.Colman´s presentation of Oba’s Story is an engaging social history of the peoples of St. Vincent and their connection to the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean community. Oba’s life, work and words personalize a complex political and social history and provide valuable insights into Rastafarian convictions on the critical issues of gender, social equality and political struggle. This highly readable book would be a welcome addition to anyone’s library.”
–Michael James Higgins, Emeritus Professor Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado. Visiting Scholar at Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social de Oaxaca, Mexico
“George Colman is clear, graceful and steady as he adroitly weaves Oba’s personal story with its generative social, political, economic, spiritual, revolutionary and pan-Africanist contexts. As a white ally, and without hype or apology, Colman lets Oba’s humanity, dignity, and passion carry themselves while he provides just the right facts and perspectives. Eye-opening and quietly-explosive, this book is an amazing labor of scholarship and love.”
–Akasha Gloria Hull, Writer and Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
“The story is a complex but compassable tale of the parallel development of one man, one family, and two renaissances, one religious and the other political. It takes place against the background of the waxing of Rastafarianism and the waning of British colonial rule in the eastern Caribbean, and recounts some of the ways that the one influenced the other.It is not a stale tale for academics, however. Far from it. Colman is as interested in the players as the game; in the complex realities of current affairs in the region; in the forces that shaped a young tear-about from St. Vincent into the man who marched onto a cricket field during a welcoming ceremony for an African prince in the Vincentian capital, dressed in the colors and waving the flag of Africa.”
George Colman worked in Detroit for twenty-five years developing the social justice ministries of the Presbyterian Church and teaching at Wayne State University’s College of Life-Long Learning. He and his wife, the artist Michele Gibbs, live in Oaxaca.