#GambiaDoors: Doors and Storefronts of The Gambia, West Africa

#GambiaDoors: Doors and Storefronts of The Gambia, West Africa. ‘Fukajai’…secondhand clothes. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio

‘Fukajai’ – roughly translates as shake off the dust


#GambiaDoors: Doors & Storefronts - The Gambia, West Africa. Mural's depicting the Mouride Brotherhood's, Lamp Faal and Baye Faal.
#GambiaDoors: Doors and Storefronts of The Gambia, West Africa. Mural’s depicting disciples, Lamp Faal and Baye Faal, of the Mouride Sufi Brotherhood, Banjul. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio

The Mouride Sufi brotherhood is a sect of Islam most prominent in Senegal and The Gambia with headquarters in the city of Touba, Senegal, which is a holy city for the order. Disciples are called Mourides, from the Arabic word murīd (“one who desires”), a term used generally in Sufism to designate a disciple of a spiritual guide.
#GambiaDoors: Doors & Storefronts, The Gambia, West Africa - barber shop storefront showing hand-painted hairstyles. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
#GambiaDoors: Doors & Storefronts of The Gambia, West Africa: ‘The Standard Barber Shop’, Serrekunda. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


#GambiaDoors: Doors & Storefronts - The Gambia, West Africa. Double-fronted shopfront in Banjul, the capital city of Gambia. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
‘Chemiss’ storefront, Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa.. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


#StoriesBehindDoors – The doorway to Mbye Babou Chune’s home. Mr Chune’s son, Modou Lamin, was 14 years old when he was shot dead during a peaceful student demonstration in The Gambia, April 2000. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

StoriesBehindDoors: The Gambia – In remembrance of the victims, and survivors of a massacre: 10 April 2000 – Modou Lamin Chune, 14 years old, was one of 16 young people shot dead by Gambian paramilitary forces (over two days, 10th and 11th April) when they opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by students. At first, rubber bullets and tear gas was used. When the students refused to disperse, these were replaced by live bullets


“My son was amongst the children massacred by Yahya Jammeh’s security forces… he was trying to escape, running with the other students to save their lives, and he was shot dead as he reached the school gates” Mbye Babou Chune

Montage of doors and storefronts from The Gambia, West Africa, and the Mediterranean island of Malta. Images ©Helen Jones-Florio
#DisappearingMalta & #GambiaDoors montage – doors and storefronts from The Gambia, and a small Mediterranean island.. Images ©Helen Jones-Florio @doors_helenjonesflorio

Photographer, Helen Jones-Florio – #GambiaDoors / #StoriesBehindDoors – Bakau, The Gambia.
Image ©Jason Florio

More of my other place for the love of unique doors and storefronts – #DisappearingMalta


Current Location: May 2020 – on lockdown in the UK

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Podcast Jason Florio – ‘9/11 to African Stories’

Podcast Jason Florio – ‘9/11 To African Stories’ – listen to the interview with Neale James/Breathe Pictures

I met with Jason Florio in The Gambia in 2018 along with his creative, business and actual life partner, Helen Jones-Florio. It was a serendipitous meeting, well for me at least, as I was in West Africa involved in the recording of a political short documentary. We sat in a restaurant one evening by a beach close to the couples’ Gambian home discussing how Jason came to make his transition from the non-stop vibe of commercial photographic work in New York, to what at face value seemed an altogether slower pace of life on a continent four thousand miles from Manhattan.Neale James/Breath Pictures

Podcast Jason Florio – listen here

Podcast Jason Florio – images by the award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker – interview with Neale James/Breathe Pictures

Talking about his work in The Gambia, West Africa, as a photojournalist “The newspapers, and journalists, had a very hard time, under 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial rule. Journalists were gunned down…Deyda Hydara, was a very famous journalist who owned The Point newspaper, he was assassinated back in 2004. Chief Ebrima Manneh, another journalist that was ‘disappeared’… never to reappear. Journalists were tortured…” Jason Florio

Podcast Jason Florio – listen here

WATCH: Youtube: 9-11 the day The Towers fell, Jason Florio’s story

“Dear Neale & Jason, This film is a testiment, in both cases, to the importance of making documentary stories, thank you both for your remarkable work and voice.” Regards, Giles Penfold/Youtube comment

Podcast Jason Florio To quote from his website biography, Jason Florio’s focus has been on ‘under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights.’ His work has been recognised with a number of awards, including The Magnum Photography Award 2017 for his raw pictorial stories on migration. It’s little wonder that photographs of his reside in a number of public and private collections and his solo and joint exhibitions worldwide have been greeted by awe, enthusiasm, and celebrationNeale James/Breathe Pictures

Podcast Jason Florio – listen here

Check out Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio’s collaborative, on-going, multi-media portrait series:

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

#Portraits4PositiveChange exhibition booklet – front cover © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

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Looking back: A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush, 930km African Odyssey

Chief Jara Sowe and photographer, Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio 2009

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush –

930km African Odyssey

Throughout November and December 2009 Expedition: The first-ever circumnavigation, completely by foot, of The Gambia, West Africa by award-winning photojournalist & filmmaker, Jason Florio, and photography producer, Helen Jones-Florio, three Gambians, two donkeys, and a cart!

Along the way, Jason shot what have become award-winning, internationally exhibited, portraits of the traditional village chiefs – the Alkalo – and elders

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

The following exert is from the expedition blog, ‘930km African odyssey’ – words by Helen Jones-Florio:

Despite turning up unannounced, at the end of a long day of walking, each village that we approached kindly permitted our raggle-taggle, road-weary team to pitch our small camp. This generous acceptance was mainly due to the fact that we used the age-old tradition and protocol for approaching the Alkalo’s – by offering them ‘Silafando’

Gambian village chief and his brother - portraits ©Jason Florio
L-R Samba Sowe (Alkalo’s brother)- farmer Alkalo Jare Sowe, Felling Koto The Gambia, West Africa ©Jason Florio

The story behind the black backdrop

In The Gambia, as in other regions in West Africa, when approaching a village as a stranger and/or traveler and you are asking something from them – such as shelter for the night – it is customary for you to give a ‘silafando’ (roughly translating as ‘a present on behalf of my journey’) of kola nuts, to the chief, which he then shares with the elders.  Once accepted, you are warmly welcomed into the village and everyone knows that you are there as a guest of the Alkalo. This, in turn, guarantees that you are treated with respect as strangers in the village during your stay. And, if anyone were to disrespect that, then they would have the Alkalo to answer to and the shame that this disrespect brings on the family.

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush –

930km African Odyssey

We met many Alkalo’s on our 6-week journey as we traversed first the length of South Bank, to the country’s furthest easterly point on the border of Senegal, then crossing the River Gambia (which was to form an integral part of a future expedition) we walked the length of the North Bank, before crossing back over the river on the Barra to Banjul ferry to make our way back to where we began the walk.

On the Barra to Banjul ferry, a very tired Short Walk expedition team: Helen, Momadou, Samba, and Jason (and the donkeys, ‘Neil and Phadley). Photo by expedition team member, Janneh.
Helen films the team leaving Makasutu Culture Forest, where the Short Walk in the Gambian Bush Expedition began. Image © Jason Florio

Read/see more images about the expedition on our dedicated blog: 930kmAfricanOdyssey.

Related: River Gambia – 1044km source-sea African odyssey Expedition

Young men on a float taking a generator to a banana plantation on the River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio
Image © Jason Florio – young men taking a generator on a raft to a nearby banana plantation, River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa


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Documentary film making in Ghana, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio

Instagram: James Town beach and fishing boats. Image ©Jason Florio

Documentary film making in Ghana, West Africa (more news on that soon…). After wrapping filming today we watched as local fishermen gather their nets at the end of a days fishing, James Town beach, Accra.

Related Posts: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ / #Portraits4PositiveChange


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