“The point of sharing this memory with you is to attempt to give an understanding of what being human is like for me. Most of us, the lucky ones, have some form of memory. We store things that we remember from time to time and things that will just remain there and probably never surface. It’s very much like taking a photograph. A photographer attempts to catch that moment in time, to cut a slice of space continuum, and share it with friends, family and sometimes with the wider audience.”
Night fishers, oyster gatherers, rat-catchers, ceremonial leaders, farmers – Africa’s humble workers are graced with dignity in a photo series shot in the sacred forest of Makasutu
“Photography for me is a way to strip away the boundaries, the prejudices and the false ideas that society and environmental pressures impose to frame my vision. It is a conduit and a tool to bridge a myriad of barriers, be they linguistic, age related, or ideological. In my approach the most important thing about photography is the process. It is about being in the moment and about the connection with the person or place I photograph. It is about finding a way to describe myself and in a way engage with humanity.”
Jason Florio is a NYC based photographer and writer from London. For the past 10 years he has worked as a freelance photojournalist around the globe for publications including The New Yorker, New York Times, Outside, Libération and The Times of London. (via Afritorial)
“Campaigners are celebrating news this week that female genital mutilation (FGM) has been criminalized in The Gambia, a victory which comes in the wake of Nigeria’s recent decision to outlaw the practice. It is hoped that the progressive changes seen in these two African countries will encourage others to follow suit.
President Yahya Jammeh announced on Tuesday that he would outlaw the barbaric tradition of ‘cutting’ girls’ genatalia with immediate effect, and it is thought that his decision is a direct result of fierce and persistant campaigning by survivors of FGM. In October we published the harrowing story of Gambian FGM survivor Jaha Dukureh, who was crowdfunding to raise money to make a documentary about the issue.
Jaha has won a huge victory this week, but the war on FGM is far from over. It is common in 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East, with over 130 million girls and young women subjected to the archaic practice. During the unimaginably painful process, a girl’s labia and/or clitoris is cut off, usually with a knife or razor blade. In some cases, like Jaha’s, the vagina is then stitched up until a girl’s wedding day. The effects of FGM are horrific: it can cause prolonged bleeding, infection, infertilty and even death, not to mention emotional and mental trauma. So why on earth do people do this to their daughters?
According to UNICEF: ‘FGM is a fundamental violation of the rights of girls and is a deeply entrenched social norm. It is a manifestation of gender discrimination. The practice is perpetrated by families without a primary intention of violence, but is de facto violent in nature. Communities practice FGM in the belief that it will ensure a girl’s proper marriage, chastity, beauty or family honour. Some also associate it with religious beliefs although no religious scriptures require it. The practice is such a powerful social norm that families have their daughters cut even when they are aware of the harm it can cause. If families were to stop practicing on their own they would risk the marriage prospects of their daughter as well as the family’s status.’
Female genital mutilation has been practised for centuries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Changing laws is a step in the right direction, but campaigners warn that attitudes must also change before we can hope to see a world free from FGM.”
Gambia introduces free education in all public schools
Gambia has abolished school fees from all public schools, from primary to secondary levels, a development welcomed by many Gambian parents, some of whom could not afford to pay the fees
In a bid to improve access to education, the Gambian government through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) has declared free education in all public schools from primary to secondary levels.
According to a MoBSE statement, “the removal of school levies is under the School Improvement Grant (SIG) funded by the government in a bid to provide education for all Gambian citizens,” Star Africa reported.
The statement reportedly indicated that the grant does not include books for the students and that parents are required to take charge of the stationery need of their children.
Expensive school fees continue to be a stumbling block preventing students in many African countries from accessing education, and the development will undoubtedly ease pressure off parents who stubble to pay fees.
According to reports, provision of free education, “has been welcomed by many Gambian parents some of whom could not afford to pay for their children’s school fees”.
School fees remain prohibitively expensive for many families in various African countries. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), school fees are widely recognised as one of the strongest barriers to achieving universal primary education. According to the UN, “fees consume nearly a quarter of a poor family’s income in sub-Saharan Africa”.
Countries such as the Gambia have abolished school fees to address such problems. Recently,Kaduna State in Nigeria announced it was abolishing primary school fees.
I thought I was tired, but then my thoughts kicked in.
11:45, turn out the light, close my eyes and try to fall asleep.
Hear cars driving past on the rain-soaked street not so far from my window and door, some of them louder and faster than is probably appropriate for so late at night, on such a rainy night. Think about how I could walk outside my door right now and immediately be on a church’s lawn. And imagine the children who might randomly run around that lawn, the sides of my house, my room, my window.
But this isn’t the Gambia. Children don’t run around so willy-nilly here. In the Gambia, children would literally climb our compound walls, hang onto the gate and call out our names, wanting us to come out and play with them. But here, children aren’t supposed to run after people they don’t know so well, they aren’t supposed to go knocking on doors and running around yards of people they don’t know, except on those designated holidays that make it okay.
And oh, the compound. What I realize tonight I truly miss. When my bedroom was on the ground floor but I still found comfort in those compound walls, never having the thoughts I have tonight about people poking about just outside my window. Knowing that if I heard someone outside my window, it was only Sainabou or Haddy or Mohammed, or perhaps a family member or good friend of theirs, never a stranger. And when my home was situated off of a main road, a street cars didn’t too often drive down, and even if they did it was so rocky and sandy that they had to drive at a turtle’s pace.
It’s not even that people have even been around that church lawn, near my window and encroaching on personal space (and funny, because personal space was something I had so much less of in the Gambia, yet I didn’t really mind that it was always invaded), but it’s a thought that still crosses my mind.