Andrew Salkey’s A Quality of Violence (1959), Ismith Khan’s The Obeah Man (1964) and Sam Selvon’s Those Who Eat the Cascadura (1972) all feature solitary male protagonists charged with ‘rescuing’ their respective communities from an ostensibly external threat: a drought or a hurricane, Carnival or a foreign visitor. In addition, they were all either set or written at the cusp of Jamaica’s and Trinidad’s respective political independence, granted shortly after their separation from the short-lived West Indies Federation. As such, these novels betray a disillusionment with the creole nationalism of the previous decades and interrogate the viability of would-be alternatives to colonial rule. The communities these protagonists represent, at a significant remove from dominant, mainstream colonial society, project their various anxieties surrounding their contingent futures upon these men, each of whom must pick up the pieces from some kind of upheaval. Perhaps in an echo of these ‘unstable’ states, Obeah is depicted in these novels as transitory, illusory and ephemeral. In order to fulfil his role as leader, each hero must manoeuvre the tension between what he believes Obeah to be and how his community perceives Obeah. He is tasked with communicating his vision to the masses, as it were: the ‘folk’ who hold him accountable are not abstract presences but real people who depend on him – or, at least, would like to. Success for these Obeahmen means first understanding their esoteric power and then interpreting it for their respective communities; it is either comprehension of Obeah that leads the hero to triumph, or misunderstanding of it that leads him and others to disaster, and communication is key. Salkey’s Dada Johnson dies because he miscalculates his powers vis-à-vis his followers’ expectations, while Parkin, who would replace him, almost loses his life in his battle with a community whose beliefs about Obeah he cannot reconcile with his own. Khan’s Zampi’s powers are frustrated because of his refusal to interact with what is left of his community, while Manko’s mistake, in Selvon’s novel, is to attempt to communicate Obeah’s power and meaning to an unbelieving (undeserving) tourist. The fates of these Obeahmen allegorise narrative visions of West Indian nation(s). Dada, charismatic yet criminal folk healer, relic of ‘the African past,’ haunts his followers after his death to the point of near self-destruction; Zampi, isolated, suffering artist, 164learns that he cannot fulfil his selfhood without his community; Manko, established yet perhaps arrogant Obeahman, is punished for exposing his secrets to those who do not care to believe in them. Each man is charged with, and suffers for, integrating his community, and his struggles pull into focus the more enduring, entrenched ‘social malaise’ of domestic colour/class conflict and degeneration under colonial rule. In order to solve their personal and political problems, these men must interpret and communicate Obeah for their communities, a task for which they are not always rewarded and which they themselves do not always understand.