‘The Hunting’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio.
Aside from the more serious element to our work – particularly, what we are working on at the moment, ‘
‘ Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime #Portraits4PositiveChange – we have also been working on another long-term series of the traditional masquerades of The Gambia.
Gambia is 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, in the concrete and corrugated iron enclave of a compound in the capital city of Banjul.
Jason Florio photographs ‘The Hunting’, traditional masquerades, Banjul, Gambia – Image © Helen Jones-Florio @floriotravels/Instagram.
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.
‘Fairies’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
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 long-term project (sneak preview, below).
Helen Jones- Florio & Jason Florio.
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia
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‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ – Helen Jones-Florio and the team © Jason Florio – from ‘ A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
Wherever we are in the world,
we walk, a lot, Florio and myself. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the only ways to truly discover a place – and the people who live there. One time, in 2009, we decided to walk around the small West African country of The Gambia. A mere 930km, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys ( ‘Neil’ & ‘Paddy’.), and a cart to carry our camping and photography equipment. As one does.
Along the way, we met many people and photographed quite a few of them. Amongst them, around 43 village chiefs and elders, the photos of which are now award-winning portraits, ‘
Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘
‘Silafando’ The Gambia © Jason Florio
Another time, we took it upon ourselves to
take a stroll along the coastline of The Gambia – a much shorter walk of around 80km. Again, we met and made friends with many people along the way.
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio
Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio
And, our walks in certain places always seem to attract a good deal of attention
‘Any chance of a bit of privacy around here?’ Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa Image: ©Jason Florio-2009
For some reason, we seem to attract dogs, wherever we go! Jason Florio and ‘Seven’ (from Footsteps Eco Lodge) talking to the cockle collectors, Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio
Of late, we’ve taken to meandering – going off-piste whenever possible –
discovering the clifftops, valleys, and crevices of Malta.
Graffiti – President Trump, Malta ©Jason Florio
And, just when you think that you’ve seen all it has to offer, the small island in the middle of the Mediterranean (sandwiched somewhere between Sicily and the North African coast) never fails to reveal something more of itself.
Scenes from Malta – photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio/Instagram
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio – image © Helen Jones-Florio
Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta Follow us on Instagram for regular travel photo updates
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
Photojournalist, Jason Florio, prepares to interview ex-Mile II prisoner, Ballo – beaten, tortured, kept in solitary confinement – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
‘for 2 years I did not see daylight…’
Portrait of ex-Mile II prisoner, Ballo -beaten, tortured, kept in solitary confinement – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Interviewing ex-Mile II political prisoner, Ngoi Njie -beaten, tortured, and witnessed the torturing to death of her friend and fellow activist, Solo Sandeng – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Portrait of ex-Mile II political prisoner, Ngoi Njie -beaten, tortured, and witnessed the torturing to death of her friend fellow activist, Solo Sandeng – The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
We’ll be posting more about our interviews with the ex-Mile II prisoners, in the coming weeks.
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Instagram – ©floriotravels images © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ © Jason Florio – from ‘ A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
LOVE, PEACE, AND GOOD HEALTH TO ONE AND ALL