Witch Hunts, The Gambia, West Africa – portrait ©Jason Florio

Portrait of Sankung Balajo - victims of President Yahya Jammeh's witch hunts, The Gambia, in 2009 © Jason Florio
Sankung Balajo – victims of President Yahya Jammeh’s witch hunts, The Gambia © 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… ” excerpt from Sankung Balajo’s interview with Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio: ‘Gambiavictims, and resisters

Witch hunts, The Gambia, West Africa: In 2009, Sankung Balajo was one of over 1000 elders abducted on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh. Paramilitary troops accompanied by ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches. The alleged witches were made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. A number of people died during the ordeal, due to drinking the liquid and as a result of severe beatings, and several deaths followed due to health complications, such as kidney failure.

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’


Jason Florio interviewing Sankung Balajo, Essau, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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