Machete Boy, traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa

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Masquerades – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

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… ‘ Read more here

 

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‘Masquerades’ West Africa

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Weekend photos: Traditional Masquerades, The Gambia & Senegal, West Africa

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‘Faro Kankurang’ (made from leaves and tree bark), The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

 

The Kankurang – a secret society – used in traditional Mandinka initiation rites, whose rituals can be seen all over The Gambia and Senegal, West Africa.

Images from an ongoing photo series.

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio, Bijilo Beach, The Gambia, West Africa – masquerade made from scraps of fabric

 

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Image © Jason Florio, Bijilo Beach, The Gambia, West Africa – masquerade made from recycled rice sacks

 

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‘Agomalah’ – traditional masquerade, the Casamance, Senegal – Footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on image to view video

 

HJF & JF

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HJF & JF © Gerald Sowe – Teaching portrait photography to Gambian students, The Gambia, West Africa

 

Related Post:  Photographing Gambian masquerades with Jason Florio, with an audience 

 

New photo project: Masquerades, The (#ebolafree) Gambia, West Africa

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©Jason Florio

 

Now that we are back in The Gambia, we’ll be continuing with a photography project, based on the traditional masquerades of this region of West Africa. Despite the Gambia being a predominantly Muslim country, the animist fuelled masquerade ceremonies pre-date the arrival of Islam and are still tolerated and practiced around the country. Animism is an intriguing subject – the belief that animals and inanimate objects, such as trees, possess a soul, or a spiritual essence.

Also, the juxtaposition between the urban environment and these ancient traditions is fascinating – just like ‘The Hunting’, pictured above (©Jason Florio), in the concrete and corrugated iron enclave of the capital city of Banjul.

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Jason Florio and ‘The Hunting’ – © HJF – screen grab, taken from film footage.

 

Whether it be a circumcision ceremony, celebrating a successful harvest, chasing away evil spirits, enforcing village rules, or simply for entertainment, each particular masquerade plays a central and significant role in many parts of West African society.

Most of the masquerades we’ve seen so far are based on animals. However, the traditions are being hauled into the 21st century, modernised by the use of synthetic fabrics and ornaments, such as Christmas tree baubles, adorning ‘new-style’ masquerades. However, more on those particular masquerades as we move on with the project (sneak preview, below).

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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HJF hanging with the ‘Fairy’ masquerade, Banjul, The Gambia © JF

Photographing Gambian masquerades with Jason Florio… and an audience

Work in Progress.

We can hardly wait to get back down to West Africa, to carry on working on our personal projects – one of which is a photographic anthology of the traditional masquerades of The Gambia, West Africa.

As a photography producer,  my work takes place behind-the-scenes of assignments, ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible for and during shoot days –  often a lengthy process from pre through to post production.  Perks of the job? Watching Jason Florio at work – his knack of putting all those he works with so quickly at ease is continually inspiring – you can see, from the end results, how well he does this. There is another aspect of our work together, which I enjoy in equal measure – watching the fascination, amusement and, often, bemusement on the faces of those people you don’t see in the final edit… those outside of the frame.

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The ‘Cumpo’ warms up – Casamance, Senegal

 

Image © Jason Florio - the 'Cumpo' in full swing - Casamance, Senegal
Image © Jason Florio – the ‘Cumpo’ in full swing – Casamance, Senegal

 

Light reflecting - Kembujeh village, The Gambia
Light reflecting – Kembujeh village, The Gambia

 

A sneak peek 'Small Devil' masquerade © Jason Florio - Kembujeh village, The Gambia
A sneak peek ‘Small Devil’ masquerade © Jason Florio – Kembujeh village, The Gambia

 

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Don’t get too close to the ‘Fairies’! Banjul, The Gambia

 

Here comes the bride - Banjul, The Gambia
Here comes the bride – Banjul, The Gambia

 

On guard! Banjul, The Gambia
On guard! Banjul, The Gambia

 

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There is a photographer somewhere in this photograph – Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa

 

There is always time to interact with the kids - Kembujeh village, The Gambia
There is always time to interact with the kids – Kembujeh village, The Gambia

 

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Locals stay well clear of ‘The Hunter’ – Kembujeh village, The Gambia

 

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Street photography -Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa

 

Jason's camera is loaned to a budding photographer - from a Malian masquerade group, Banjul, The Gambia
Jason’s camera is loaned to a budding photographer – from a Malian masquerade group, Banjul, The Gambia

 

I do, however, think that I can safely add ‘security person’ to my résumé now – when on so many of our shoots, I regularly have to keep thirty curious kids from jumping in front, gesticulating madly (double thumbs up, gangsta style backwards peace sign, and smart military-like salutes, being the top three), of Jason’s lens!

 

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A very typical scenario on our shoots in West Africa – these kids were determined to get in on the action! @Helen Jones-Florio/Expedition Africa

 

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Thanks for stopping by

Helen Jones-Florio

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Hanging out with the ‘Fairy’ Masquerade, Banjul, The Gambia © Jason Florio