Tag Archives: West Africa

One The Vodun Trail - Benin. A voodoo priest with a python wrapped around his head, Temple of Pythons, Ouida, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio

On The Vodun Trail – Benin. Images ©Jason Florio

On the Vudon Trail - Benin. A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols ©Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols. Image ©Jason Florio / The New York Times

On the Vodun Trail – Vodun practitioners in Benin worship a pantheon of gods and lesser deities that inhabit objects ranging from stones to waterfalls. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors dwell among them, and they employ talismans, or “fetishes” like dried animal parts, for spiritual and physical rejuvenation as well as for protection against spells cast by malevolent sorcerers.

A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin. The Voodoo priest Salako Hannyi in his temple, Benin, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted . Voodoo priest, Salako Hannyi, in his temple, in the village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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“Le vodun is Africa. It is the faith of our ancestors,” I was told by Dagbo Hounon Houna II, the spiritual chief of vodun in Benin, where 20 percent of the population, or a million people, practice pure vodun and another 40 percent embrace a form that incorporates Christian iconography. A retired civil servant in his 50s, he received me in a rondavel, a circular hut, inside a compound on the outskirts of Ouidah…

Excerpt from: ‘On the Vodun Trail’ in Benin Published in The New York Times Words by Joshua Hammer and photographs by Jason Florio

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One The Vodun Trail - At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin a small hole is dug where a package is placed at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin, a small hole is dug where a package is placed. Image ©Jason Florio/ The New York Times
One The Vodun Trail - Benin.A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call 'The Source' at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call ‘The Source’ at the Thron temple, Ouidah, Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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A female voodoo devotee dances and sings, with others who beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
Voodoo devotees dance, sing and beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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Press: El Pais – ‘Tribal Royalty’. Portraits of Gambian Chiefs and Elders by Jason Florio

PRESS: El Pais 'Tribal Royalty' (1/6) - portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders. Taken whilst on a 930km circumnavigation of the Gambia, West Africa
PRESS: El Pais ‘Tribal Royalty’ (1/6) – portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders

‘REALEZA TRIBAL’

Muchas gracias a El País por presentar mis retratos de jefes y ancianos de Gambia. Jason Florio, photographer/filmmaker
PRESS: El Pais 'Tribal Royalty' (4/6) - portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders. Taken whilst on a 930km circumnavigation of the Gambia, West Africa
PRESS: El Pais ‘Tribal Royalty’ (4/6) – portraits by Jason Florio of Gambian chiefs (alkalos) and elders.

El Pais’ Opinion’ page ran the portraits for 6 days last week, both online and in hard copy. Jason Florio’s portraits form part of a larger body of work, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’. Formal portraits of Gambian chiefs (the ‘Alkalos’) and elders, taken whilst on the first fully documented circumnavigation of The Gambia, West Africa, entirely by foot – 930km. With producer, and photographer, Helen Jones-Florio.

‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’

'Silfando' Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse ©Jason Florio. Portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders from a 930km walk around the Gambia, West Africa
‘Silafando’ – Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse. Image © Jason Florio

Along with Jason, the small expedition team also consisted of producer, and photographer, Helen Jones-Florio, three Gambians (Samba, Janneh, and Modou), and two donkeys (‘Paddy’ and ‘Neil’, kindly loaned to the team from The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust charity) – to pull the cart of camera equipment, and camping gear. To read some of the road stories, and see behind-the-scenes images, from the walk, please visit Helen’s blog ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey

The expedition team at dawn - leaving Khalaji, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
Dawn – the expedition team leaving the village of Khalaji, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Gambia – justice is needed for 2005 massacre of migrants

Watch – ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ Director of Photography, Jason Florio

Gambia – justice for 2005 massacre: July 22nd, 2020 – Today marks 15 years since Gambian security forces, on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh, killed over 50 West African migrants.

In July 2005, 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians were murdered in The Gambia en route to Europe. The unarmed migrants were killed by the ‘Junglers’, a death squad reporting directly to Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s dictator at the time. Evidence has since emerged that Yahya Jammeh gave the orders to kill them. The families of the victims are still seeking justice. At the time of release of this documentary, Yahya Jammeh is in exile in Equatorial Guinea – ANEKED – watch the documentary, ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’

Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana © Jason Florio. Isaac is the son of one of 44 murdered Ghanian migrants, by Gambian security forces, in The Gambia, in 2005.
Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana. The son of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005 © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

Martin Kyere, Ghana – the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre by Gambian security forces . Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of the West African migrants.

“When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.”

After their capture, the migrants were badly beaten and then split into two groups and handed over to the Junglers, Jammeh’s hit squad. Over one week, the Junglers summarily executed the group. Martin managed to slip the rope from his wrist and escape into the bush, undercover of the night, minutes before the executions began of the group he was with. He spent 4 days walking in the Gambian bush avoiding coming into contact with anyone until he was able to cross the border to safety in southern Senegal. 

“I jumped From the pickup and into the forest. I heard the soldiers shouting at me, but I did not look back. I  ran harder…I tripped on something in the forest that brought me down and gunshots passed over me and around me. But, it was dark so I lay still and waited until it was safe to move again. I could hear behind me ‘Oh God save us, Oh God save us’, and gunshots”. Martin told us that he knew then that his friends were being killed. 

Martin is now part of a campaign to bring Jammeh2Justice, for himself and the families of all of those whose loved ones were executed in The Gambia and Senegal in July 2005.

Ghanaian Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005. Image © Jason Florio
Ghanaian, Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces. Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

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“A credible international investigation is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of the 2005 massacre of West African migrants and create the conditions to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emeline Escafit, legal adviser at TRIAL International. “Until now, information has come out in dribs and drabs, year after year, from different sources.” Human Rights Watch

The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005, captured and massacred by Gambian security forces. Image ©Jason Florio/helen Jones-florio #Portraits4PositiveChange
The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005. They were apprehended by Gambian security forces then massacred by members of President Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘The Junglers’ on his orders. “We will not rest until we have my father’s body to bury and Jammeh is brought to justice.” Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

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PRESS: El Pais - 'Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa's Silent Dictatorship'. Images by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Press: El Pais – ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’

Press: El Pais – Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship

– Three years after the fall of the Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, pressured by the street after losing at the polls, a commission (Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations – TRRC) brings to light the terrible crimes committed for two decades, supported by its apparatus of repression, the collusion of justice and the outside inaction – Read the full feature El Pais / words by José Naranjo Noble

Victims of Jammeh - portraits by Jason Florio, The Gambia
Portrait © Jason Florio – 13year old Bintu Tunkara looks at a photograph of the father who she never got to meet, on her mother’s phone. Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

The images are from the on-going multimedia series

by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

PRESS: El Pais - 'Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa's Silent Dictatorship'. Images by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Press: El Pais – ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’. Read more about the featured images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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