Meeting with Ambassador Mamadi Touré – Guinea Consulate, New York


L-R: Fanta Kaba, Ambassador Mamadi Touré, Florio, Rockyatou Diallo – Guinea Consulate, NYC.

Friday 18th May, 2012 – Guinea Consulate New York City

Two weeks ago, we were kindly granted an audience with the extremely busy Ambassador for Guinea in New York, Mnr Mamadi Touré. Because  it’s always important to us to be courteous and respectful wherever we travel, we requested the meeting to let the ambassador know about our plans to travel through his country, along the River Gambia,  in West Africa. We also wanted to ask his advice about any ‘in-country’ issues that he felt we should be aware of.

So, it was with great pleasure to walk into the offices of the consulate, on a sunny Friday afternoon in May, to find ourselves surrounded by a very familiar sight:  men dressed in traditional outfits, grandboubou’s, and the women, vibrant and colourful, in their grandmuba’s (or kaftan’s) and musorr (head dresses).

L-R: Fanta Kaba, Ambassador Mamadi Touré, Helen Jones-Florio, Rockyatou Diallo

In Mnr Touré’s office, we spent a very convivial half an hour, drinking black tea and chatting with him and his young interns, Fanta Kaba, and Rockyatou Diallo.  The ambassador, along with all his staff – notably Madam Barry, the ambassador’s personal assistant, and counsellor, Mnr Chérif Diallo – were, not surprisingly, immensely knowledgeable and insightful about Guinea. We gained some helpful local tips on the country from all of them – i.e. where exactly the source, and the start of our journey, of the River Gambia is (or may be – we have yet to truly find out)!

Along with sanctioning our Guinean visas, the ambassador very graciously offered to write us a ‘letter of introduction‘ which will, hopefully, ease our passage through Guinea –  should we come across any police or army check-points. These kind of letters were invaluable during our ‘Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey‘ http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ . Without such letters of introduction, dealing with certain police officers and military personnel could have turned out to be have been much more problematic.

Our next meeting, in a couple of days, will be with the Liaison Officer, Lily Valtchanova, at UNESCO, in New York. Because we will be travelling through a couple of World Heritage Sites (including Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal and Kunta Kinteh Island, The Gambia), we’d like to find out if there is anything that we can collaborate – or contribute (image-wise) – on. And, whether they can offer any further advice about the regions we will be travelling through.

More on that shortly…

Thanks for stopping by.

Helen Jones-Florio & Jason ‘Flo’ Florio

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About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) www.floriophoto.com (under 'Projects') http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km https://rivergambiaexpedition2012.wordpress.com
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