Youtube: Forest Festival, Casamance, Senegal, West Africa

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VIDEOGRAPHY © JASON FLORIO AND HELEN JONES-FLORIO . CLICK HERE OR ABOVE IMAGE TO VIEW FOOTAGE

 

Late last year, Jason Florio and I traveled the short distance, south, across the border from our home in The Gambia, into the Casamance region of Senegal, West Africa – on assignment for a local NGO, Concern Universal; who we had worked with on previous projects.  The purpose of the assignment was to document a celebratory ‘Festival des Forêt‘, taking place in the village of Koudioubé; a juddering (hold-onto-something-fixed-down-and-mind-your-head-whilst-you’re-at-it) 20 minute drive down a deeply rutted ‘road’, through the bush – which, we were told by the driver, is often  impassible during a heavy rainy season – from the small Senegalese border town of Diouloulou.

The festival was particularly important, in the fact that it brought people together, from neighbouring communities whereas previously, due to a 30 year old civil war, they had been too afraid to mix and gather, in large numbers.

The 'Cumpo' is warming up... Casamance, Senegal
Jason Florio photographs the ‘Kumpo’ – traditional masquerade – festival des forêts, Casamance, Senegal. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

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Helen Jones-Florio: “These bundles are seriously ‘acouliatah’ (heavy)!”  – image © Jason Florio  

 

We were also accompanied by our friend, and adroit writer, Louise Hunt, who was covering the story for The Guardian:

We have been dancing all night together. In the past, people did not even attend funerals in neighbouring villages,” says a community leader, Bakari Jallou.

Casamance is Senegal’s most ethnically diverse region, separated from the rest of the west African country by Gambia. But it is not ethnic or even religious differences that have divided people for decades, it is whether they are pro-government or support a separatist movement to become an independent state.

The 30-year civil war, Africa’s longest-running conflict, has killed thousands and displaced many more. Senegal’s extensive hardwood forests were battlegrounds for the rebel Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) and the army.’ Louise Hunt for The Guardian – read the entire feature here.

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Helen Jones-Florio

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Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio working for Concern Universal NGO – Koudioubé forest, Casamance, Senegal

 

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Documentary photographer, Jason Florio, talks about ‘Silafando’ – portraits of Gambian village chiefs

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click here or on above image to view the interview on Youtube

 

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation  –  Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY – interview with Jason Florio about his exhibition of award-winning portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders – ‘Silafando’ – taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey‘, West Africa, with Helen Jones-Florio.

 

'Silafando' The Gambia © Jason Florio

'Silafando' - a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘Silafando’ The Gambia © Jason Florio – see the full series of award winning portraits here

Take a look behind the scenes on vimeo

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Jason Florio photographs village chief, Lamin Jammeh, Khalaji, The Gambia, West Africa – videography by Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or above image to view footage

Press: Jason Florio’s best photograph – African migrants crammed into a boat off Libya

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Image © MOAS_EU/Jason Florio

 

The Guardian: June 25th, 2015

Interview by: Louise Hunt

I was wearing a white protective suit and had my cameras; I looked like a spaceman. I shook their hands and tried to make eye contact, then I climbed on to the engine cover. This is maybe a quarter of those on board. It was only when there was a scuffle that I realised there were people under the decks. I looked down into a black hole, and you could just see people sat on each other’s laps. They were calling: “Please get us out, it’s so hot, we’re suffocating.” It was like the old pictures you see of slave ships. They’d been like that for 14 hours… .’ Jason Florio – read the full interview here

Related post: Youtube – MOAS rescues migrants from a dinghy at night – footage by Jason Florio for MOAS_EU

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

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‘Fara 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