Photographer, Jason Florio, talks about his current New York exhibition ‘Silafando’ – portraits of Gambian chiefs and elders from our 2009 journey


Youtube: Jason Florio talks about ‘Silafando’ – his current New York exhibition at the Corridor Gallery/Rush Arts. Please click here or on the image to see the footage

In 2009 we walked 930km’s around The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa, completely by foot (‘bi tamala singalah’ – Mandinka language),  with three local Gambian friends, two donkeys, and a cart – to carry our camera gear and camping equipment: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey

Each evening, we would approach a village and ask the chief if we could camp there – using the traditional method of ‘Silafando’ – which roughly translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘ – of giving the bittersweet, caffeine-containing, kola nuts. Following this age old protocol ensured that we were taken in, under the protection of the village chief – the ‘Alkalo’. Once we were accepted into the village by the alkalo – and his elders, with whom he shared the ‘Silafando’ – we would ask him (or her – there were 5 female chiefs in The Gambia at that time) if he would sit for formal portrait. These are just a couple from what has since become an award-winning body of work by Jason Florio:

One of Jason's fine art photography prints, available to donors in 'An Exchange' from the 2009 expedition 'Herouna and white horse' The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio,

‘Herouna and white horse’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 9.10.06 AM

L-R Bubu Dabbo – Farmer, Brifut. Alkalo Masanneh Cham, Chamen Sosseh
The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 9.14.56 AM

Alkalo Jare Sowe, Felling Koto, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

To view more from the series of portraits, please visit Florio’s website – – or, if you find yourself over in Brooklyn, NY, before May 5th, 2013, pop into the Corridor Gallery and see them up close.

Thanks to Rush Art Philanthropic Foundation/Corridor Gallery curator, Charlotte Mouquin Vosnesenskiy, for an excellent  job in putting the show up. Over three years later and the alkalo’s are still garnering so much attention. It’s an honour for us to have the work out there still. It’s with great thanks also to all the alkalo’s who graciously welcomed us into their villages and accommodated our request to sit for the portraits.

The Florios – H & Flo

Rush Arts flier

The Corridor Gallery is not open 7 days a week so please contact them directly to find out their opening hours

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) (under 'Projects') 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
This entry was posted in Adventure, Carbon footprint, Culture, Documentary, Environmental, Expedition, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Fundraising, Guinea-Conakry, People, Photography, photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, River Gambia, Senegal, Sponsorship, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, West Africa, Youtube and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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