#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

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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

Decemeber 2012: ‘Labé, the capital of Guinea-Conakry, up in the Fouta Djallon, is motorcycle city, overrun with thousands of Chinese-made bikes – and ‘moto taxis’ are the way to travel, carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers a piece. As we walked around the town, we had to constantly dart out of  the way as  a ‘moto’ zoomed towards us, at maximum speed– within inches of us – “à ton, à ton!” (we have this expression: ‘taking no prisoners’, which seemed rather apt, on the frenetic, horn-blaring, streets of the capital, as we leapt and scurried out the pathway of motorcycles, coming from all directions!).  “In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.” Saif (our local fixer) told us, as he led us through the dusty, stinking, dirty, 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 (intrigued by the two ‘portos’ – white people/European) person we pass’  – words by Helen Jones-Florio – extract from ‘The Long and Winding Road… Kedougou, Senegal – Labé, Guinea-Conakry – and back again‘ Read more on the River Gambia Expedition blog.

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Ebu – on his moto-taxi, in Mali-Ville, Guinea-Conakry – and our (extremely bumpy!) ride back down the Fouta Djallon Highlands to Kedougou, Senegal.

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

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Photographer, Jason Florio, gets details from moto-taxi rider, Labé, Fouta Djallon, Guinea-Conakry – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Photo shoot location – Watch out for the crocodiles! The Gambia, West Africa

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Those crocodiles are most definitely not ornamental! Jason Florio at work – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool is certainly an interesting place to shoot – you just need to watch your step, constantly. Thanks to Musa, our fixer (a person who is hired as a guide, due to their local knowledge of any given area, to help facilitate assignments) and caretaker of the pool, Jason and I met with some young Gambian boys, to work further on our traditional masquerade project, which we started last year, here in The Gambia.

The three boys turned up with a couple of rice sacks, a bunch of leafy branches, and what looked like a few scraps of bright red fabric. Within half an hour, they were transformed into Kankurangs, and  fully in character – jiggling branches, menacingly clashing machetes together, and omitting the rather alarming high-pitched screeches that seem to be the modus operandi of every Kankurang, and which always has the desired effect of unnerving everyone around them.

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Jason Florio at work – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

I’ll be posting more updates about this ongoing masquerade project as and when we find more subjects to photograph.

HJF

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HJF – In search of masquerades at the Roots Homecoming Festival, 2014, The Gambia – image © Jason Florio

 

Related post: Kankurang on the beach