The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. TRRC Digest Edition 10

‘TRRC Digest Edition 10 is out! The 10th session focused on the witch-hunt campaign ordered by Yahya Jammeh against mostly elderly men and women accused of witchcraft in The Gambia. Read the testimonies here ANEKED (African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings & Enforced Disappearances)

The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia. TRRC Digest  Edition 10. Dodou Sanyang stands beside the bed of his late mother, The Gambia Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia. TRRC Digest Edition 10. Dodou Sanyang stands beside the bed of his late mother. Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

“Green Boys and magicians came around the village, singing, drumming, and dancing, and targeted NRP (UDP) opposition party members” Doudou Sanyang

The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. Dodou Sanyang, in the room of his recently deceased mother, Naa Joni Sonko. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys, and ‘magicians’ from Guinea, went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches.

The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten, and robbed by their captors. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold – Essau, Northbank Division, The Gambia.

The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia – Portraits © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio, taken from the on-going ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series
The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia - Sankung Balajo, one of over one thousand elders abducted on the orders of then-President, Yahya Jammeh.. © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio   
The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia – Sankung Balajo, one of over one thousand elders abducted on the orders of then-President, Yahya Jammeh.. © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio 

“I was kept for five days. When they forced me to take the medicine (‘Kubehjaro’ a hallucinogenic substance), I could no longer stand up… I fell down on the ground… ” Sankung Balajo

See more of the portraits, used in the past and present TRRC Digest Editions, taken from the ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ on-going multimedia series – a collaboration between Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Opening night of 'The Duty to Remember' exhibition at the National Centre for Arts & Culture, Banjul, The Gambia. A collaboration with ANEKED.  Portraits on display ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio. Exhibition Image ©Jason Florio
Opening night of ‘The Duty to Remember’ exhibition at the National Centre for Arts & Culture, Banjul, The Gambia. A collaboration with ANEKED. Portraits on display ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio. Exhibition Image ©Jason Florio

Current Location: April 2020 – on lockdown in the UK

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New work from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series

New work from our long form multi-media project –‘The Gambia – Victims and Resisters’: The family of Lt Ebou Lowe. Ebou was disappeared and executed by members former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, the ‘Junglers’, after he was accused of being part of a coup attempt in 2006 to overthrow the dictatorial Jammeh regime.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

New work from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series: LT. Ebou Lowe’s daughter, Amie Lowe ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio



Ebou Lowe’s daughter, Amie Lowe, photographed in her father’s room, left unchanged since he was disappeared in 2006 – “I grew up not knowing the love of a father. I was only three years old when he disappeared, so I don’t remember him. I only know him through what people have told me, that he was a good man, and some say he was a hero.

New work from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series: LT. Ebou Lowe’s mother, Jarra Tambadou ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio


‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

New work from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series: LT. Ebou Lowe’s sister, Zainab Lowe-Baldeh ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio

Ebou Lowe’s sister, Zainab Lowe-Baldeh – “The road to justice is a long one for us but we hang tight. Ebou Lowe was a pillar to the family and a father of four, and was taken without a trace…knowing what has happened from the Truth Commission (TRRC) feels like a needle in a haystack.” Zainab is the co-founder of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human-Rights Violations – a victim support group, now with over one thousand registered members.

Photography exhibition - portraits ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio from 'Gambia - victims, and resisters of the Yahya Jammeh regime, The Gambia, West Africa
‘The Duty to Remember’ a Memorialisation Project and Photography exhibition, The Gambia – portraits ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ of the Yahya Jammeh regime, The Gambia, West Africa, in collaboration with ANEKED

The exhibition runs through March 24th, 2020, at the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC museum gardens), Banjul. It is free and open to all. Please visit the museum website for opening hours. A selection of portraits, from the ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series are being exhibited, in a collaboration with ANEKED (African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances) NGO.

The Photographer, and the Producer – Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, respectively. Image courtesy Joanna Demarco

#Portraits4PositiveChange

March 2020 – Currently in The Gambia, West Africa

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Redux Pictures features: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Huge thanks to my agents, Redux Pictures, for featuring an on-going body of work, ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’, in collaboration with Helen Jones-Florio

Jason Florio

Photographer & Filmmaker

#Portraits4PositiveChange

February 2020 – Currently in The Gambia, West Africa

Assignment queries and image licensing – Contact here

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@jasonflorio / @floriotravels  / @jasonflorio_photoprints / @doors_helenjonesflorio – Instagram

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Al Jazeera – ‘Still reeling from the Jammeh years, Gambians wait for justice’ Documentary

Al Jazeera: Still reeling from the Jammeh years, Gambians wait for justice‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ Documentary

#ICANNOTBURYMYFATHER

A short documentary about the 56 West African migrants forcibly disappeared and killed in 2005 in Gambia by security forces on orders of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh. The film follows Isaac Mensah, one of the victim’s sons, who shares the family’s account of how his father’s death/disappearance continues to take an emotional toll on the family; and his journey to more answers.

Watch the full documentary – ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ – Director of Photography, Jason Florio

#ICANNOTBURYMYFATHER

Director & Producer – Nana-Jo Ndow/ANEKED

Presenter – Isaac Mensah

Director of Photography – Jason Florio

Assistant Producer & Second Camera – Festus Jackson Davis

Editor – Gabriel Baron

Animator – Alexis Stern

Translator & Advisor – Zusong Tidana

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January-February 2020 – Currently in The Gambia, West Africa

Assignment queries and image licensing – Contact here

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@jasonflorio / @floriotravels  / @jasonflorio_photoprints / @doors_helenjonesflorio – Instagram

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floriophotoNYC – Twitter

PhotosTellStories – FB