No Place To Call Home by JJ Bola

JJ Bola No Place To Call Home Jacket - Immigration


Jean starts at a new school and struggles to fit in. He develops an unlikely friendship with rowdy class mate James, who gets him into a string of sticky situations; fights, theft, and more. At home, his parents, Mami and Papa, who fled political violence in Congo under the dictatorial regime of Le Marechal, to seek asylum as refugees – which Jean and his star-student little sister, Marie, have no knowledge of – pressure him to focus on school and sort his act out. Jean is then suspended, and Marie, who usually gets on his nerves, helps him keep his secret, which draws them closer together.

As the family attempts to integrate and navigate modern British society, as well as hold on to their roots and culture, they meet Tonton, a sapeur, womaniser, alcohol-loving, party enthusiast, who, much to Papa’s dislike, after losing his job, moves in with them. Tonton introduces the family – via his church where colourful characters such as Pastor Kaddi, Patricia and Nadege congregate – to a familiar community of fellow country-people, making them feel slightly less alone. They begin to settle, but the reality of their situation unravels a threat to their future, whilst the fear of uncertainty remains.

With colourful characters and luminous prose, No Place To Call Home is a tale of belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss –not by death, but by distance– and, by no means the least, of love.


JJ BOLA is a Kinshasa born, London raised writer, poet, educator and workshop facilitator. He performs regularly at shows and festivals around the world. JJ Bola’s work is centred on a narrative of empowerment, humanisation, healing of trauma as well as discovery of self through art, literature and poetry. He believes that the true purpose of art is to expose the reality of this world and how to, most importantly, survive it. No place To Call Home is JJ Bola’s debut novel.


Video from the launch of No Place To Call Home

JJ Bola in conversation with actress Cate Blanchett in Switzerland for the UN Refugee Agency

Storytelling and the Power of One – A conversation hosted by Cate Blanchett

Our Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett is speaking live with refugee Aya Abdullah and former refugee JJ Bola on the power of storytelling.

Posted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on Monday, January 22, 2018

JJ Bola’s words are read out in the House of Commons by MP Angus MacNeil


JJ Bola headlines at the MBIFL 2019 Literary Festival in Kerala, India

No Place To Call Home picked as one of Media Diversified Top 15 Books published in 2017

JJ Bola takes us back to his childhood home and tells us why, as a refugee, he always felt like one of the bad guys from the movies in this personal account on the BBC World Service ‘The Cultural Frontline’ radio programme: 14:40 minutes in

No Place To Call Home long listed for The Guardian ‘Not The Booker Prize’





The Group Therapy Programme – A Multi-Media Book/Song/Film Project


We are delighted to launch The Group Therapy Programme: (Interpersonal Learning) – a multi-media project which tells the story of a fictional therapy session where a group of characters share how they are feeling through animated songs threaded together through an intra-animation.

The project is a creative collaboration between an eclectic mix of talented artists including a songwriter, 5 illustrators, 4 singers and 3 animators who together bring the lyrics of the songs and the overall story to life.

The Group Therapy Programme is available to experience in a number of ways including the film, a multi-media digital book with the lyrics, music, art and animation as well as  ‘behind the scenes’ extras from the contributors. It is also available as a stand alone music EP.


Click below to watch The Group Therapy Programme Film (individual song videos can be found separately on the VIDEOS page)



The Multi-Media Digital Book

The Music EP



Caroline is an American illustrator based in Paris. She lives in Montmartre with her husband and two children. Prior to switching to illustration, she worked for over ten years as a footwear designer for brands around the world, including adidas and Converse. She is currently working on a graphic novel set in Portland during the 1960s, and due to come out early next year.

Caroline Lee illustrated and animated ‘Breathe in Your World’ for ‘The Group Therapy Programme’

Daniela Villegas Skinner is a 28 year old artist currently living and working in Southsea, UK. Born in Colombia and raised in Miami, USA, she trained as an animator and art historian at the Kansas City Art Institute. Daniela finished her art history studies in Paris, France. Daniela is particularly interested in our relationship with the human form and working with different textures and line work. She uses repetitive lines to bring a visual rhythm to her work.

Daniela Skinner animated and illustrated ‘Dreaming I See It’ in ‘The Group Therapy Programme’

There’s always a narrative behind Ellen’s illustrations. She draws inspiration from many places from her imagination, to bits of conversation overheard, to people and places, to books that she has read. Ellen purposefully keeps her images open to interpretation, providing just enough imagination for the spectator to make their own story. She grew up in Hertfordshire and then moved to Cardiff where Ellen gained a 1st class degree in illustration at Cardiff School of Art and Design. She has been living and working in London since 2012.

Ellen Leber illustrated ‘Stay My Love’ in ‘The Group Therapy Programme’

Gabreal is an illustrator, animator and entrepreneur interested in original stories.

Gabriel illustrated and animated ‘The Therapist’ and animated ‘Don’t Close My Eyes’ and ‘Stay My Love’ in ‘The Group Therapy Programme’ book and film


AJ Lewis is a british singer and songwriter who has collaborated with various music producers internationally. AJ has starred in London’s West End and internationally in shows such as ‘Soul Train’, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, ‘Dancing in the streets’, ‘Blues Brothers’, ‘Show Boat’, ‘Bernstein’s Mass’, ‘Porgy and Bess’.  He was also the lead singer in the hit Michael Jackson show ‘Thriller Live’.

AJ Lewis sings ‘Stay My Love’ on ‘The Group therapy Programme’ EP

Amy is a self taught pianist, composer and singer from London who has loved music for as long as she can remember. She has written, performed and produced soundtracks for a number of short films and documentaries and has collaborated with a various artists, producers and writers.

Amy sung ‘Breathing I See it’ on ‘The Group therapy Programme’ EP

Dee Ajaye’s luring voice and addictive stage presence captivates her audience. Live work has seen Dee Ajayi alongside Stormzy, Krept and Konan, Nick Brewer and more. Described as ‘up in the clouds’, Dee is noticeably in her own world of infinite energy.

Dee Ajaye sung ‘Don’t Close my Eyes’ in ‘The Group Therapy Programme’ EP

Like many vocalists, Sharon Rose found her voice in church choirs and on school stages at a very young age. But a voice is best used when it expresses the passion of the singer, and at 27, Sharon is brimming with a fiery passion for her music.

Sharon Rose sung ‘Breathe in Your World’ in ‘The Group Therapy Programme’ book and film


Cuba was part of influential London Hiphop Group, 12 Stone Productions who were together for 10 years before deciding to go their separate ways in 2004. Even though one chapter in his musical journey came to an end, Cuba’s passion to create music never left him and in 2010 he decided to learn to play the piano. Now a songwriter and composer, Cuba has always believed that regardless of style, music is music and this has taken his songwriting in a whole new direction.

Cuba wrote composed and produced all songs for ‘The Group Therapy Programme’

Robyn Travis Partners with OWN IT!

Robyn TravisOWN IT! is excited to announce the signing of Robyn Travis, a powerful storyteller and fresh new voice. Travis’ debut book (published in 2013), Prisoner to the Streets, is a raw, honest, moving account of growing up in Hackney and Tottenham. In his first book, Travis shares his journey of going from a young man caught up in London’s inner city “postcode wars”, to becoming a positive leader who turned his life around.

OWN IT! will release Robyn’s next book and first novel Mama Can’t Raise No Man. The narrative is creatively told through a series of letters to and from the main protagonist who unexpectedly finds himself in Prison. The novel explores themes such as what happens when there are a lack of male role models for young men, potential consequences of cheating husbands, and how oppressive forces of society and failed systems can negatively effect individuals and family units. Although Travis tackles hard hitting issues, he does so with his trademark engaging style making this not only an insightful, but also an enjoyable read.

The digital edition will take the form of an innovative and unique multi-media format using digital technology to tell the story in a way that really brings the unconventional narrative technique to life in an exciting new way.