#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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#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

#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.
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#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

#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

#GambiaDoors

#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

#StoriesBehindDoors

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

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