Image: Florio-2009 Alkalo Kebba Kora, Bansang village, The Gambia, West Africa
18th November 2009 - A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush team reach the village of Bansang and Florio gets to photograph his 12th chief (Alkalo), Kebba Kora, on our 930km walk around the small West African country.
The village of Bansang is actually more of a town - sprawling and densely populated - surrounded by rice paddy fields (faro’s). Jammeh, the president is promoting Gambia to to grow their own rice again, as opposed to depending on imported rice from far away places such as Thailand(!). There are many swam lands in the Central River Division of The Gambia, which makes it ideal territory to cultivate rice.
When we arrived to meet the Alkalo, we could see many women bent over, working hard in the faro’s as we set up the black backdrop for Florio to take the Alkalo’s portrait.
Kebba, the Alkalo told us that hippo’s were a huge problem for the rice farmer as they come up from the Gambia River, which is very near by, and eat the crops during the night. Often devastating a whole field in one go, before the farmers even have a chance to harvest their crops. This can then lead to food-scarcity not only from feeding their families the rice but also from selling it at the local lumo’s (huge weekly markets)
With the Gambia River within walking distance, after the shoot, the team walked into the town to explore and to see the river. We got there just as dusk was settling in. So beautiful out there, as we watched a local ferry take its passengers to the other side (where we would be in a few short weeks - insh’allah!)
The Alkalo very kindly offered to let us use his radio-station to camp in for the night. The building was still under construction - i.e. a long way from being finished! So, Florio and I hung our mosquito from the ceiling, in one of the empty rooms (after we swept away the rubble and dust!) and laid down the Therm-a-rest mattresses on the concrete floor. The rest of the team, unrolled their mattresses in one of the other empty rooms. Our ‘bathroom’ was a bucket (or behind the house!) in what would one day actually be a bathroom. However, as yet, the bath tub lay upended and the toilet unplumbed.
Once back from our walk, Janneh set up the furno (a small hand-crafted stove) and lit the kembo (charcoal) on the balcony (again, after much sweeping away of debris) to make tea for the team. We lit some candles and got the incense burning (to keep away the pertinacious mosquito’s!) just as the Alkalo’s son very kindly brought a family bowl of fish and rice, from his mother, and a loaf of tapalapa to mop of the oily juice…….delicious, after a long days walk (21km) in the hot sun
Distance walked to-date: 346km