Photo of the Day – ‘The Hunting’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia © Jason Florio

'The Hunting' traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio photography
‘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.

Although the 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
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 photography
‘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.

Photographers, Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa selfie
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia

 

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‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’ Update

‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters  of a Regime’ 

#Portraits4PositiveChange

 

We’ve been busy these last couple of months, working predominantly on the portraits of victims and resisters in our second home of The Gambia. This is a work-in-progress, which we began two years ago. We also got asked to make a documentary for Amnesty International, which should be available to view in its entirety next month. See the trailer on our Vimeo page.

Along with making the portraits, we are filming the testimonies of all the victims and resisters of the Yahya Jammeh 22 year regime. More on this at a later date.

 

Gambia Victims and Resisters of a Regime – ©Jason Florio, the Gambia
Dodou Sanyang, Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio.

 

Dodou Sanyang in the room of his recently deceased mother. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh in 2009. 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. Image ©Jason Florio.

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio Gambia
Oumie Jagne, Gambia – portrait © Jason Florio.

 

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Jammeh regime security forces after she was caught up in the student protests of April 10/11 2000. She was at her small shop when the shooting of unarmed students began and attempted to help a young girl who had been shot in the foot. While pulling the girl to safety, Oumie was fired upon and suffered life-changing injuries, almost severing her left arm. She is one of over 1000 victims registered at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – Bakau, The Gambia. Image ©Jason Florio.

‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters  of a Regime’ 

See more from this on-going series of portraits on Jason Florio’s website floriophoto.com

follow our hashtag campaign #Portraits4PositiveChange

 

E-Presiden, Yahya Jammeh, leaves the Gambia - 21/1/207 ©Jason Florio

 

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

“I will rule for a billion years if Allah wills it” Yahya Jammeh

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

Gambia Has Decided

Follow @jasonflorio – Instagram

Instagram - images © Jason Florio
Instagram – @JasonFlorio.

 

Follow @floriotravels – Instagram

Instagram @floriotravels. Images © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Instagram © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio.

 

If you would like to know how you can help us to make more #Portraits4PositiveChange, please check out our GoFundMe page.

More updates, coming soon

Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio.

Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko
Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko

 

 

The Gambia – The Victims and the Instigator. Portraits © Jason Florio

Ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, with his ever-present security force ©Jason Florio
Ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, with his ever-present security force ©Jason Florio

 

One man, many victims

The Gambia – torture, abuse, and dissent

From 1994 -2017 Yahya Jammeh ruled the GambiaWest Africa as his own fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. With Jammeh’s ouster and flight into exile, hundreds of Gambians now feel safe to come forward and speak freely about the crimes committed against them by his regime.

This portrait series is a work in progress…Jason Florio.

Jugana Susso, was arrested and detained during a peaceful demonstration by President Jammeh's feared security services. She was tortured and beaten so badly on her legs she has problems walking even around her own home ©Jason Florio
Jugana Susso, was arrested and detained during a peaceful demonstration by President Jammeh’s feared security services ©Jason Florio.

 

Read/see more images on Jason Florio’s blog and website.

"We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia" free doc screening, Aug 13th, London. Poster Image © Helen Jones-Florio (inside Mile2 prison) "We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia" free doc screening, Aug 13th, London. Image © Helen Jones-Florio (inside Mile2 prison)
“We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia” watch the documentary trailer Image © Helen Jones-Florio (inside Mile2 prison)

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Photo of the Day: Victims of the Jammeh Regime, The Gambia – portraits ©Jason Florio

Habib Touray - environmental activist, Gambia. Portrait ©Jason Florio | Touray was jailed for protesting during the Yahya Jammeh regime
Habib Touray – environmental activist, the Gambia. Portrait ©Jason Florio

 

Touray was jailed for protesting during the Yahya Jammeh regime. An environmental activist, he was pulled from his house by President Jammeh’s henchman and jailed for protesting against illegal sand mining, run by Jammeh’s brother, that was having a devastating environmental impact and also destroying ladies vegetable gardens in Habib’s village. Jason Florio.

See more of Florio’s portraits from

‘The Gambia – Torture, Abuse, and Dissent