On a recent photo assignment, with Jason Florio, we spent a day on a pirogue meandering through the network of bolongs – tributaries – of the River Gambia, following a group of oyster women as they harvested the mangroves for oysters (more on that assignment – and Jason’s photos – once the story has been published). It’s extremely labour-intensive work for such a meager return on sales. We paid 35Dalasi (about 56p / 70¢) for a small cupful at the market, today, where there is prolific competition from other oyster-vendors.
Being on the water, here in the Gambia, always reminds of our River Gambia Expedition – a 1044km source-sea journey, spanning over three countries. We came across a group of oyster women, who were harvesting, smoking, and shucking the oysters near to our campsite – readying them to sell at the local market.
Making #Portraits4PositiveChange, with Jason Florio, we are meeting victims and survivors of the brutal regime of the former president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh. The man, ‘A.K.J.’, who lives behind this door, was shot in the leg by security forces when he took part in a peaceful student protest in April 2000. A.K.J. told us how they opened fire when he and his fellow students were less than 100 meters away. He saw 4-5 students lying dead around him as he waited to be rescued – 14 young people in total were shot dead. Fortunately, for him, the Red Cross came to his aid. He was In hospital for 4 months… He now walks with the aid of a stick.
As I lay wounded, hoping that someone would come and help me, on the ground around me, I could see 4 or 5 bodies… they were not moving…AKJ
For three days, I did not know who I was, or where I was…my clothes were like, you know, a butchers…covered in blood… KB
Mr. Kafu Bayo, who lives behind this door, was arrested in the Gambia on April 14th, 2016, whilst marching with the opposition leader, Solo Sandeng – who was also arrested at the same time and, tragically, killed whilst in police custody – and many others, for electoral reform. Kafu, along with fellow marchers, was severely beaten, tortured and imprisoned for 8 months. He was in his mid-seventies at the time of his arrest.
See Jason Florio’s portraits, from our on-going series
Ebrima Jabang, age 64, was arrested along with the opposition activist, Solo Sandeng, during the April 14th, 2016 peaceful protest for electoral reform. He was taken to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters, tied face down on a table and tortured by YahyaJammeh’s personal hit squad, the Junglers, permanently losing the sight in his right eye among other internal injuries. Jabang said that he could hear the screams of Solo Sandeng, who was being tortured in another room. Tragically, Sandeng died on the same day, as a result of being tortured. See more of this work-in-progress: floriophoto.com
Exhibition News: We will be holding the first photography exhibition, in the Gambia, from this particular body of work, early in March 2019. We are really looking forward to exhibiting in the Gambia, again.
Watch this space for more information on that, shortly!
‘Jason Florio shares his images from his ongoing series on citizens of the Gambia who were tortured under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, and who are now stepping forward and demanding justice.’ Open Society Foundation.