Diverse stories in today’s “dark times” have never been more important, Crystal Mahey-Morgan, founder of OWN IT! has said at the launch of No Place To Call Home, a book about Congolese refugees by writer JJ Bola.
Speaking at the event, which took place on Tuesday night (20th June) at Dalston Roof Terrace in East London, Mahey-Morgan commended the author for an “incredible book” and linked it to recent tragedies that have occurred in the UK including the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington last week.
“The book is so incredible and we’re so proud to be publishing it," she said. "It’s been dark times lately, there’s been a lot going on, and in the first page of JJ’s book, where the dedication should be there’s a proverb which says: 'no matter how dark it gets through the night, the sun will always rise', and so we have to keep that in mind, we have to keep the hope in mind and I think JJ’s book does that.”
JJ Bola reading from No Place To Call Home
She continued: “It’s hopeful, it’s about identity, it’s about refugees who have come from the Congo who have come to Britain and have tried to form an identity, a home, a place to belong. With everything that’s going on right now I think having these stories represented, hearing these stories, having people like JJ like them, is really, really important so thank you for coming and supporting today.”
Mya La Sheek, the host for the evening, who is also Congolese, echoed Mahey Morgan’s words, saying that the publication of Bola’s book is “groundbreaking” for the Congolese community. “JJ is Congolese and it’s a very big deal for us in the Congolese community to have established writers and poets and musicians because we don’t really get to be seen as much as we should. So this is a very ground-breaking moment for us all, and we thank JJ for being able to open it up to us”, she said.
The evening saw Bola, who is a published poet, perform impromptu poems, read excerpts from his new book and discuss his background and writing processes.
The ticketed event also featured performances from poets MC Angel and Anthony Anaxagorou.
No Place to Call Home will be published tomorrow (22nd June).
JJ Bola in conversation with host for the evening Mya La Sheek