#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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#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

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Current Location: May 2020 – on lockdown in the UK

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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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Oyster Women of The Gambia, West Africa

Women, selling their oysters in Serrekunda Market, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio

On a recent photo assignment, with Jason Florio, we spent a day on a pirogue meandering through the network of bolongs – tributaries – of the River Gambia, following a group of oyster women as they harvested the mangroves for oysters (more on that assignment – and Jason’s photos – once the story has been published). It’s extremely labour-intensive work for such a meager return on sales. We paid 35Dalasi (about 56p / 70¢) for a small cupful at the market, today, where there is prolific competition from other oyster-vendors.

River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

Being on the water, here in the Gambia, always reminds of our River Gambia Expedition – a 1044km source-sea journey, spanning over three countries. We came across a group of oyster women, who were harvesting, smoking, and shucking the oysters near to our campsite – readying them to sell at the local market.

Female migrants from Guinea Bissau work along the shores of a tributary of River Gambia, in The Gambia, collecting oysters that hang from the mangroves. © Jason Florio – River Gambia Expedition
River Gambia Expedition – ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio photographs the oyster women, as they harvest the mangroves, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

We wish you a happy weekend!

Helen Jones-Florio

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Currently working in the Gambia – with Jason Florio – May 2019

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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