Our preparation to deliver the Spearman project in The Gambia had been challenged by a military intervention from neighbouring West African countries to evict president Jammeh out of the presidential office. The process created chaos in the country as 26,000 Gambians, fearful that violence could erupt, sought refuge in Senegal and thousands of UK tourists were evacuated just days before we were scheduled to travel.
We discussed the potential danger of travel and the significance of supporting people in the country through the project. Fortunately my good friend and International photo journalist Jason Florio was in the country to provide a personal update on the situation through social media messaging, and we decided to go.
It was an eventful journey, but once in the country we started the process of preparation, including constructing a projection screen, promoting the project through flyers, stickers on taxis and on geli geli's (busses) and an interview on Big Sam's radio station in the Town of Brikama, with an active audience across The Gambia and South Senegal. Internet access in the small village of Kartong is not very reliable, and Kye worked extremely hard to share our progress with people back in England through social media such as twitter and facebook.
We visited the department of the Minister of Arts and Culture, however we could not arrange a personal meeting as the Presidential Office was in the process of re-structure.
Over the next ten days myself, Kye and the members of Kouma Kan worked extremely hard to incorporate the work into the rehearsals, making sure that Spearman through digital embodiment was reintegrated into the group.
We are extremely grateful to all the staff at Sandele Eco-lodge, Kouma Kan musicians and dancers, the Kartong Festival staff, Karting village community and people of The Gambia for their support.