8 Apr 2019

From slings and rockets, to love and peace

From Voices, 7:00 am on 8 April 2019

Musician Paul Ubana Jones has his own thoughts about last month’s mosque shootings in his home city.

“I truly hope that, we, the people in Aotearoa/New Zealand learn from these senseless acts of terror and murder, for I do believe that only love will conquer hate,” he says.

Paul Ubana Jones

Paul Ubana Jones Photo: RNZ/Kate Orgias

On this episode of Voices; we hear about the life of award winning UK-Nigerian musician, Paul Ubana Jones. Produced by Kate Orgias.

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Paul practises what he preaches. In his spare time, he takes classes that teach people about compassion and care for one another.  He has had a lot of lived life experiences already.

“My mother was white, and she met a black guy before the Second World War,” he says.

He was born in London to a Nigerian father and Yorkshire mother at a time when people weren’t as accepting as they are now.

“They suffered the slings and rockets from British racism and her family disowned her, so we never knew who her family were when we were growing up."

His father was also illiterate, but his mother loved reading and writing.

"My dad was a kind of travelling guy, wanderlust he had, and he ended up in the British merchant navy during the Second World War.”

Paul is an avid reader nowadays and passes on his love of literature to children through educational workshops around the world.

It has been 32 years since Paul and his whānau rented a campervan in Auckland, unaware that they would then end up settling in Aotearoa.  

It was in 1986 when one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in history happened, Chernobyl, that Paul and his wife Corinne decided they wanted to leave Europe for a better life with their children.

“It seemed like that they were going to get a better shot, a shot of freedom, a bit more room to move, you know to be kids and not holed-up in some apartment block, be it in Zurich or be it in London.”

Paul and his Swedish wife Corinne currently live just out of Christchurch in the Southbridge family home of 23 years.

Before they came here, they spent time in Australia.

Paul said that they migrated to New Zealand in the end as people seemed to embrace diversity more in Aotearoa than in Australia.

“Australia wasn’t like that for me - ‘eh what are ya mate? Are you an abo or what?’ - I got that kind of Australian reax and I got others, [I thought] there’s still a lack of respect here for non-white culture. New Zealand’s just not like that.”

Now he has a New Zealand passport, and is a father of four.

But Paul readily admits it has not always been easy finding the balance between touring and family life. 

He pays tribute to his wife Corinne, for being able to do both.

“If my family had fallen apart I think my music would have. She keeps all the biz together and has kept the four kids together when they were younger.”

Paul has released nine albums already, won three New Zealand music awards, and performed in venues and at festivals all around the world.

This year he has a new album on the way and other exciting collaborations ahead.

Having travelled widely and shared stages with the likes of Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Taj Mahal, Tracy Chapman, Patti Smith and Crowded House – just to name a few - at 67 years old, there are no signs that this touring musician is slowing down.

  • Live Session: another side of Paul Ubana Jones