About the Book
For twelve years I have been returning annually to ‘Makasutu’, an area of sacred forest in the West African republic of The Gambia, to make portraits of the people who live and work there. ‘Makasutu’ received it’s name when the Islamic wave swept though the Sahara in the 12th Century, and Gambian converts used the land as a prayer ground before mosques were erected - hence the name, translated from the local Mandinka language ‘Maka’ – mecca and ‘sutu’ – in the forest. Since then it has always been deemed a hallowed land.
The portraits are a preservation of the diminishing pastoral and village life in The Gambia and an echo of our own past: that of a simpler, more community driven, family-orientated and less mechanized existence
Jason Florio, award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker, originally from London, based in NYC for 18 years before relocating to The Gambia, West Africa, in 2013. He has produced images and documentaries for clients including The New York Times, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Men’s, Journal, Outside, Bloomberg, National Geographic, Geographical, MIT Technology Review, PepsiCo, Amnesty International and the World Bank. He is a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review. His focus has been on under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights. His work has been recognised with a number of awards, including The Magnum Photography Award for his work on migration. He was the first recipient of the Aperture Foundation grant to produce Aperture’s first-ever assigned story, ‘This is Libya’. His work is held in a number of public and private collections and has been presented in solo and joint exhibitions in the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa