A big part of our planning for the River Gambia Expedition 2012 is to make contact, and meet wherever possible, the ambassadors or cultural attaches of the three West African countries we will be travelling through: Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia. This enables us to give them a heads up on what exactly we will be doing, as we pass through each country and, hopefully, we’ll come away with a ‘letter of introduction’ from each embassy.
In June this year, before we left New York to come to England to prep for the journey, we were kindly granted an audience with the extremely busy Ambassador for Guinea in New York, Mnr Mamadi Touré. He has since sent a letter to the Ambassador of Guinea in Dakar, Senegal, to introduce us and inform him about our travels through his country.
Next on our list are the Gambian and Senegalese embassies here in London. The more official letters of introduction we can gather, the smoother our passage over the different borders and travels throughout each country will be – insh’Allah.
When we returned to New York after our last expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ – we had the honour of meeting Her Excellency Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, the Vice President of The Gambia, when she was visiting the UN Mission on 2nd Ave, New York.
March 11th 2010, UN Mission, NYC: ‘When the audience was granted we never expected to have a whole delegation greeting us – let alone a Gambia Radio & TV crew! However, we dusted-off our already fast-fading Mandinka and it was like walking into a wonderfully surreal slice of The Gambia in New York for an hour’
We presented Her Excellency with a copy of Florio’s book – Makasutu (black and white portraits of people who live and work around a sacred forest in The Gambia) – and talked to her about our Gambian adventure which, to our complete delight, she had previously heard about.
Making such contacts could prove invaluable should anything goes wrong during our travels.
More updates soon
The Florios (H & Flo)
Please click on the image below to hear Jason Florio (Flo) talk about how you can own one of the fine art photography prints from the images he will take whilst on the River Gambia Expedition 2012