Friday Photo: Dusk over Kunta Kinteh Island, on the River Gambia, West Africa

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Photographer, Jason Florio, walking down the jetty at Kunta Kinteh Island (formally James Island), in the middle of the River Gambia, near to the towns of Jeffureh and Albread, The Gambia, West Africa. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island was once served as one of the major ports on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade route, of West Africa.

Image © Helen Jones-Florio Taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘.

Youtube: Forest Festival, Casamance, Senegal, West Africa

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VIDEOGRAPHY © JASON FLORIO AND HELEN JONES-FLORIO . CLICK HERE OR ABOVE IMAGE TO VIEW FOOTAGE

 

Late last year, Jason Florio and I traveled the short distance, south, across the border from our home in The Gambia, into the Casamance region of Senegal, West Africa – on assignment for a local NGO, Concern Universal; who we had worked with on previous projects.  The purpose of the assignment was to document a celebratory ‘Festival des Forêt‘, taking place in the village of Koudioubé; a juddering (hold-onto-something-fixed-down-and-mind-your-head-whilst-you’re-at-it) 20 minute drive down a deeply rutted ‘road’, through the bush – which, we were told by the driver, is often  impassible during a heavy rainy season – from the small Senegalese border town of Diouloulou.

The festival was particularly important, in the fact that it brought people together, from neighbouring communities whereas previously, due to a 30 year old civil war, they had been too afraid to mix and gather, in large numbers.

The 'Cumpo' is warming up... Casamance, Senegal
Jason Florio photographs the ‘Kumpo’ – traditional masquerade – festival des forêts, Casamance, Senegal. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

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Helen Jones-Florio: “These bundles are seriously ‘acouliatah’ (heavy)!”  – image © Jason Florio  

 

We were also accompanied by our friend, and adroit writer, Louise Hunt, who was covering the story for The Guardian:

We have been dancing all night together. In the past, people did not even attend funerals in neighbouring villages,” says a community leader, Bakari Jallou.

Casamance is Senegal’s most ethnically diverse region, separated from the rest of the west African country by Gambia. But it is not ethnic or even religious differences that have divided people for decades, it is whether they are pro-government or support a separatist movement to become an independent state.

The 30-year civil war, Africa’s longest-running conflict, has killed thousands and displaced many more. Senegal’s extensive hardwood forests were battlegrounds for the rebel Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) and the army.’ Louise Hunt for The Guardian – read the entire feature here.

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Helen Jones-Florio

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Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio working for Concern Universal NGO – Koudioubé forest, Casamance, Senegal

 

Relics of the past: New York Central Railroad, 69th St Transfer Bridge, Hudson River Parkway, NYC

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

 

Next week, Florio and I travel back to our home of New York City – albeit a fleeting sojourn. I’m still fascinated by the city of childhood movies… and, I ALWAYS look up.

Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related: New York – in black & white

New York City #1

New York City #2

Postcards from Malta: The Beauty in Decay

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

On my many meanderings around the streets of Malta, I often come across sites, such as the above. Beautifully decaying doors – from another place in time – starkly juxtaposed by the surrounding modern, steel and glass environment. Yet, conversely, you could very easily walk right past these exquisite, woefully neglected, facades, without even noticing them.

What is behind the doors… now, that’s what I’d truly like to see… .

Helen Jones-Florio

Related: Doors & Facades

Documentary photographer, Jason Florio, talks about ‘Silafando’ – portraits of Gambian village chiefs

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click here or on above image to view the interview on Youtube

 

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation  –  Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY – interview with Jason Florio about his exhibition of award-winning portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders – ‘Silafando’ – taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey‘, West Africa, with Helen Jones-Florio.

 

'Silafando' The Gambia © Jason Florio

'Silafando' - a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘Silafando’ The Gambia © Jason Florio – see the full series of award winning portraits here

Take a look behind the scenes on vimeo

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Jason Florio photographs village chief, Lamin Jammeh, Khalaji, The Gambia, West Africa – videography by Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or above image to view footage

Black and White Monday: Cracked windscreen, Kinshasa, DR Congo

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio, Kinshasa, DR Congo

 

I have ridden in many, many, taxis in parts of Africa where cracked windscreens seem to be de rigueur. However, this one defied the realms of possibility. The screen – barely held together (it wasn’t even taped up!) – has to be the finest I have seen… yet, that is.

Helen Jones-Florio

Related: Black & White Photography

The Phoenix migrant offshore aid station (MOAS) returns to Malta, from another successful rescue mission

Knowing how much dedication and hard work the whole crew, and MSF (Medecins sans Frontieres) – along with photojournalist, Jason Florio –  had put into yet another successful mission, I was honoured, to be able to watch, from the vantage point of one of Malta’s ancient ‘Three Cities’,  Birgu, as the Phoenix glided into the Grand Harbour, yesterday.

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The Phoenix pulling into Bezzina Boat Yard, Marsa – Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

The MOAS owned vessel (migrant offshore aid station) was returning from Sicily, after disembarking, for the fourth time in their three week mission, another boat full of rescued migrants. from the Bouri oil fields area – which lie about 40km off the coast of Libya, in the Mediterranean Sea.

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Then, a quick dash through the back streets of Malta (thanks to Charlie, the MOAS driver, whose Maltese style of driving invariably brings the the contents of my stomach up to my throat!) towards the Bezzina Boat Yard , to catch the Phoenix as it docked, and the crew disembarking, smiles, laughter – and a few tears – happy to be welcomed by family and friends. And, perhaps with some relief, to have a little respite from the exhaustive, and often emotionally-charged, rescues of hundreds of men, women, children, and babies  – many of whom, openly sharing their hellacious experiences of war, persecution, rape, abduction, and extortion. And, then, to be pushed out to sea  – for many, their first time ever on open water – in battered, old, wooden fishing boats, originally made to hold a small crew of fishermen, not the 400 plus people, crammed onto (and below the decks of) most of them.

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Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related post: Rare photographs document the rescue of hundred of migrant – images © MOAS_EU/Jason Florio

Battleface: Meet the Storyteller – Jason Florio

 

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Click here or on above image to read the full interview, with Jason Florio – images © MOAS_EU/Jason Florio, 2015. All rights reserved

 

Battleface: Describe your most rewarding career moment.

Jason Florio: Completing the first recorded source-sea navigation of the River Gambia, documenting life along one of Africa’s the last, major, free-flowing rivers – a 1044km expedition, by canoe and motorcycle, with my wife and expedition partner, Helen (Jones-Florio).

How do you protect yourself?  How do you measure risk? Other questions,  and more, answered by Jason more, on the Battleface website

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‘150,000 Cross Med.’ in 2015 – Migrant Report

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Image © MOAS_EU/Jason Florio, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

Some 150,000 migrants are believed to have reached Europe by sea to date so far in 2015, with virtually all of them landing in Italy (74,947) or Greece (75,970), according to the International Organisation for Migration.. .’ read more on  Migrant Report, by Mark Micallif