Press: El Pais – ‘Tribal Royalty’. Portraits of Gambian Chiefs and Elders by Jason Florio

PRESS: El Pais 'Tribal Royalty' - portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders
PRESS: El Pais ‘Tribal Royalty’ (1/6) – portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders


‘Realeza tribal’

Muchas gracias a El País por presentar mis retratos de jefes y ancianos de Gambia. Jason Florio, photographer/filmmaker

PRESS: El Pais 'Tribal Royalty' (4/6) - portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders
PRESS: El Pais ‘Tribal Royalty’ (4/6) – portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders

El Pais’ Opinion’ page ran the portraits for 6 days last week, both online and in hard copy. Jason Florio’s portraits form part of a larger body of work, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’. Formal portraits of Gambian chiefs (the ‘Alkalos’) and elders, taken whilst on the first fully documented circumnavigation of The Gambia, West Africa, entirely by foot – 930km. With producer, and photographer, Helen Jones-Florio.

‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’

'Silfando' Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse ©Jason Florio
‘Silafando’ – Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse. Image © Jason Florio

Along with Jason and Helen, the small expedition team also consisted of three Gambians (Samba, Janneh, and Modou), and two donkeys (‘Paddy’ and ‘Neil’, kindly loaned to the team from The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust charity) – to pull the cart of camera equipment, and camping gear. To read some of the road stories, and see behind-the-scenes images, from the walk, please visit Helen’s blog ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey

Map of the route in The Gambia, West Africa of 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km' ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Map of the route of ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km’ ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Helen Jones-Florio, 'Paddy' the donkey, Samba Leigh - A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush (930km of it!) © Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio, ‘Paddy’ the donkey, and Samba – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ (930km of it!) © Jason Florio, 2009

Current Location: AUGUST 2020 – Malta

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#TBT: Moto-Taxi boys – Labé’s got style, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa

Moto Taxi Boys, Labé, Fouta Djallon, Guinea Conakry. Image ©Jason Florio from the River Gambia Expedition
Moto Taxi Boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa ©Jason Florio

‘RIVER GAMBIA EXPEDITION

December 2012: ‘Labé, the capital of the Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry, is motorcycle city. The streets are overrun with thousands of cheap Chinese-manufactured bikes and ‘moto- taxis’ are the way to travel, carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers. As we walked around the town, we constantly darted out of  the way as  a ‘moto’ zoomed towards us, at maximum speed – within inches of us – “à ton, à ton!”. The expression ‘take no prisoners’ seemed rather fitting, on the frenetic, horn-blaring, streets of the capital, as we leaped and scurried out the pathway of motorcycles, coming from all directions!

In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.

In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.” Saif, our local fixer, told us as he led us through the clamorous, dusty, stinking, litter-filled streets of the downtown area. Despite the moto-taxi dodging, and the putrid aromas, Labè is a vibrant, animated, friendly place – ‘Jarama‘s (local Pula language greeting), ‘bonjour‘s, and ‘ca va’s abound, from every smiling, curious person we pass, as intrigued by the two ‘portos’ (white people/travelers/tourists) as we are of the streets of the West African city.

Little did we know then, the River Gambia Expedition team would spend almost 10 bone-shuddering hours hurtling down mountains from the source of the River Gambia, in the highlands of the Fouta Djallon, on the back of our respective moto-taxi riders bikes! A story for another day.

Words by Helen Jones-Florio – extract from the River Gambia Expedition. Images ©Jason Florio

‘River Gambia expedition

Moto Taxi Boys, on the streets of Labé, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa ©Jason Florio

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River Gambia Expedition: Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen’s moto-taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands © Jason Florio
Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen & her moto-taxi rider, Ebu (AKA ‘Stoner’), and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou, with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Current Location: July 2020 – Malta

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Press: El Pais – ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’

El Pais ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Press: El Pais – Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship

– Three years after the fall of the Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, pressured by the street after losing at the polls, a commission (Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations – TRRC) brings to light the terrible crimes committed for two decades, supported by its apparatus of repression, the collusion of justice and the outside inaction – Read the full feature El Pais / words by José Naranjo Noble

El Pais: Pa Ousman Njie was driving his taxi when he was caught in an opposition party UDP demonstration on April 14, 2016 and was arrested by the security forces. 
He was brought to the National Intelligence Agency. 
“They took me down,” he says. “They covered my eyes and I felt an injection in my back, like a big staple gun, and then I felt something enter me burning inside. I was screaming, screaming, asking God for help. They started to hit me with a piece of hard rubber, he kicked me, punched me … and I thought, now I’m dead” ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

The images are from the on-going multimedia series

by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

El Pais in print – tear sheet. Images © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

El Pais - TRIAL FOR THE CRIMES OF THE DICTATORSHIP The Gambia settles its history. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange
El Pais: TRIAL FOR THE CRIMES OF THE DICTATORSHIP The Gambia settles its history. Images © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

#Jammeh2Justice

Current Location: July 2020 – coming out of Lockdown London, UK

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Save the Arts

Photographer/videographer, Helen Jones-Florio, films the 'Zimba', one of The Gambia's many traditional masquerades, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio
Photographer/videographer, Helen Jones-Florio, films the ‘Zimba’, one of The Gambia’s many traditional masquerades. Image © Jason Florio

To all professionals in the film, television, theatre, entertainment, and arts world, join the challenge to post a photo of you in your job. Just a picture, no description. The goal is to flood social media with our profession. Copy the text and post a pic #SaveTheArts

Photographer/filmmaker, Jason Florio filming inside the notorious Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer/filmmaker, Jason Florio, at work – Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

#SaveTheArts

Current Location: July 2020 – coming out of Lockdown London, UK

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