Meet the Alkalo - a 930km expedition by foot -
The Gambia is the smallest country on the continent of Africa, and no matter the size of their villages each one has a chief, known locally as an Alkalo. An Alkalo can be male or female and can be either a descendant of the founder of the village or elected by the villagers. The Alkalo’s rolls include negotiating disputes within the village, giving land and hosting travelers that pass through his domain. One wonders how long the Alkalo system in The Gambia can survive, as the country is rapidly modernizing, and the position is largely unpaid.
Inspired by 19th-century Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, I co-led with my wife, the first recorded circumnavigation of The Gambia by foot – a 930 km journey over six weeks. The portraits were made using a 70 year old cloth that was used by my grandmother in London during World War 2, to block the light from her windows at night so as not to guide German bombers on their deadly mission.