Ninki Nanka’s appearance is hard to corroborate, with descriptions varying from tribe to tribe. For some, it combines the head of a crocodile with the body of a donkey; for others, it’s a blend of hippopotamus and giraffe. To others still, it’s simply a large snake. Not that seeing it is desirable — its one consistent trait is its fatal stare. Francis’ eyes comb the nearshore. “It’s believed that if you see the Ninki Nanka — purple glossy starling! — you’ll die.” Words by James R.Patterson/NatGeo Travel
An Afghan Diary: For those of who have had the privilege to have spent time in Afghanistan, I am sure all hearts go out to the extraordinary people who are on the verge of facing another surge of uncertainty as the US troops prepare to leave on Sept 11 2021. Jason Florio
My journey to the Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan in August 2000 was in fact not planned. I was on my way to Kashmir to follow the ‘jihad trail’ when I got a call to join my colleague and writer Pepe Escobar, who was working on jihad stories on the Pakistan-Afghan border – he said: “This is (Afghanistan) where it’s really happening…”.
Crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by foot at the Khyber pass we spent two weeks driving through the heart of Taliban-Afghanistan to try and get a clear understanding of who the Taliban were and how they held such sway over the populace. We felt we had dropped through a tear in the space-time fabric to the surreal land of corrupted ancient ideologies spouted from the mouths kohl-eyed men driving brand-new Toyota 4×4’s, where photography was outlawed – and because of which, we were arrested on two occasions.
To follow the full story on Afghanistan we knew we also need it to head to the north-east to meet the Taliban opposition, the Northern Alliance, who controlled that portion of the country. This we could not do until a year later in August 2001.
Our first attempt to cross the border from Pakistan to the Northern Alliance area disguised as women wearing full covering burqas failed. We then spent the next three weeks organizing a ride into the country via Tajikistan on a Russian helicopter operated by the Northern Alliance.
Being in the north-east was like being in Shangri-La compared to our time with the Taliban. We worked fairly freely and were eventually granted an interview with the legendary commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Despite our two successful Afghan journeys, we felt that the world at the end of August 2001 the media cared little about what was happening in this harsh land.
On December 1st, 2016, the Gambian people voted out their autocratic President Yahya Jammeh, after 22 years in power, and elected Adama Barrow as their new president. Jammeh conceded defeat but a week later announced that he was annulling the election results and would not step down.A grassroots movement #GambiaHasDecided emerged in reaction.
Activists initially set up billboards with the slogan #GambiaHasDecided. The billboards were torn down by Jammeh loyalists. Not to be intimidated, the activists around the country turned to spray painting the slogan.
On January 26th, 2017, the new president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, returned home to mass celebrations. For his own safety, Barrow had exiled himself to Senegal, where, on January 19th, he took oath at the country’s embassy in Dakar.