‘In the mid-1940’s as the German’s blitzed London, my grandmother and her neighbors used clothes to blackout the light emitting from their windows so as not to guide the Luftwaffe on their deadly mission…’ In the mid-90’s, unbeknown to him at the time, Jason Florio began to use the very same blackout curtain, which his grandmother used during the World War 11, as a backdrop to various portrait collections. Read & see more on Florio’s website
‘Labé, the capital of Guinea-Conakry, up in the Fouta Djallon, is motorcycle city, overrun with thousands of Chinese-made bikes – and ‘moto taxis’ are the way to travel, carrying a minimum of 2-3 passengers a piece. As we walked around the town, we had to constantly dart out of the way as a ‘moto’ zoomed towards us, at maximum speed– within inches of us – “à ton, à ton!” (we have this expression: ‘taking no prisoners’, which seemed rather apt, on the frenetic, horn-blaring, streets of the capital, as we leapt and scurried out the pathway of motorcycles, coming from all directions!). “In Labé, there are too many accidents every day.” Saif (our local fixer) told us, as he led us through the dusty, stinking, dirty, litter-filled streets of the downtown area. Despite the moto-taxi dodging, and the putrid aromas, Labè is a vibrant, animated, friendly place – ‘Jarama’s’ (local Pula language greeting), “bonjour’s”, and “ca va’s”, abound, from every smiling, curious (intrigued by the two ‘portos’ – white people/European) person we pass’ – words by Helen Jones-Florio – extract from ‘The Long and Winding Road… Kedougou, Senegal – Labé, Guinea-Conakry – and back again‘ Read more on the River Gambia Expedition blog.
Even our tents and canoes, situated by the river over 2 miles away from the mine itself, were covered in a fine film of the pale pink, talc-like dust…
‘A relatively short day’s paddling on the River Gambia today, as we wanted to stop and visit another gold mine in South Eastern Senegal. This stretch of the river is dotted with artisanal gold mines – which draw thousands of migrant workers from all over West Africa: Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, and Senegal itself. All of them hoping to make their fortune. Whole families live in and around the mines, in makeshift villages (rather disconcertingly described as the ‘Wild West‘ of SE Senegal, during our pre-expedition research). All the mines we visited were understandably dusty, but this one, in particular, had an extremely fine, pink-hued, dust which got into absolutely everything. Even our tents, and canoes, situated by the river – over 2 miles away from the mine itself – were covered in a fine film of the pale pink, talc-like dust. But, at least we could pack up our tents and leave the next day, washing away the dust. Many of those people whose lives revolve around the gold mines, for months and years in some cases, aren’t so lucky, as they inhale toxic fumes from the mercury – used to separate the gold from the rock dust…’ Words by Helen Jones-Florio. Read more on the River Gambia Expedition blog.