#ThrowbackSaturday: 30th December, 2014 – attempted coup, The Gambia, West Africa

 

Quiet on the streets of Banjul, The Gambia, after failed coup attempt - image © Helen Jones-Florio
Quiet on the streets of Banjul, The Gambia, after failed coup attempt – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

In 2014, Jason Florio and I were living in the small West African country of The Gambia, when we were woken by an early morning phone call, on 30th December, from a Gambian friend who advised us to ‘stay off the streets’ as the sound of gunfire had been reported, coming from the vicinity of the State House, in Banjul – the then President Yahya Jammeh’s seat of autocratic power – and talk of an attempted coup.

Not ones to miss out on the action, we got into our truck, cameras in hand, and drove around the unusually deserted streets. It was unnerving, to say the least, to see one of the main streets, Kairaba ‘Pipeline‘ Avenue – which is always teeming with people, traffic-laden, and noisy – virtually empty.

Quiet on the streets of Banjul, The Gambia, after failed coup attempt - image © Helen Jones-Florio
Quiet on the streets of Banjul, The Gambia, after failed coup attempt – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

The conspirators were from different parts of the US and several may never have even met in person. A few had lived in the US for decades; a coup participant who was later killed in an attempted raid on the seat of government in the capital of Banjul on Dec. 30, 2014 had served in Iraq as a platoon leader with the Kentucky National Guard.‘ Read more: Business Insider

 

Press: photographing repatriated Gambians for IRIN News – images © Jason Florio

Mohammed - repatriated Gambian from Libya, by IOM - image © Jason Florio
IRIN News – Mohammed – one of 140 Gambians who was repatriated from Libya by IOM- image © Jason Florio   

 

Repatriated Gambian, Mohammed, with his uncle, Alieu, The Gambia ©Jason Florio
Repatriated Gambian, Mohammed, with his uncle, Alieu, The Gambia ©Jason Florio

 

‘Just two weeks earlier, he was languishing in a prison near Tripoli; his third spell in detention during the nine months he spent in Libya trying to board a boat to cross the Mediterranean…’ read more at IRIN News – words by Louise Hunt + additional reporting from Banjul by Jason Florio
Jason Florio photographing repatriated Gambian, Mohammed, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio photographing repatriated Gambian, Mohammed, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio