22 Feb HJF gallery – Jason Florio’s portraits of a new West African president
Portraits of a President – by Jason Florio
We’ve been in the tiny West African country of The Gambia for the last two months. We came originally to document the inauguration of the president-elect, Adama Barrow. However, this was set back due to the incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, and his refusal to admit defeat and step down, after his long 22-year reign.
A lengthy, and at times extremely unstable, transition period ensued. Including, the president-elect having to seek exile, for his own safety, in neighboring Senegal. This was until such time that the defeated president could be ‘persuaded‘ to leave The Gambia. In the meantime, Mr. Adama Barrow was sworn into office as President of the Republic of The Gambia, at the Gambian Embassy, in Dakar, January 19, 2017.
Eventually, the ex-president left The Gambia and President Barrow was safe to return, almost a month after having to leave his country. Finally, the long-awaited, inauguration was repeated, on Gambian soil, for the Gambians to celebrate their new president fully and freely.
However, early January, just before Mr. Barrow had to leave The Gambia, for his temporary exile in Dakar, we were honored to be granted a private audience with him. He, and his coalition team members had set up temporary offices at a local hotel. Jason was able to ask permission to make his portrait. ‘I have some people to see right now, but set up what you need to and I will be with you as soon as time allows‘, Mr. Barrow very graciously agreed.
Twenty minutes later, after having set up Jason’s signature background (which you can see more of, in his award-winning ‘Makasutu‘ series of fine art photography prints here on the site), in the gardens of the hotel, along came the president-elect, accompanied by his entourage of security and media PR team. Thus, it was as easy as that!
Thank you, Mr. President, we wish every success to you and all Gambian’s, in the making of the ‘New Gambia’. A country we have considered our second home for many years.
Founder | Curator HJF Gallery