Sometimes a picture or pictureS say more than one million words. But since I can’t seem to stop typing, let me just say these are the most elegant and moving and happy pictures I’ve seen of any man in a long time…. (well if you don’t count president obama (wink, lol)). Anyway check these out and afterwards go see them with the music and all, here. Oh and Hector Mediavilla, I must say sir, job well done- you have completely inspired me and you’ve absolutely made my day. Thank you.
The sapeur Lamame takes a ride to the outskirts of Brazzaville. In this occasion he is dressed in dressed in a tailcoat and covers his right eye with a black patch.
A young sapeur of the outskirts of Brazzaville puts on his yellow tie in the catholic church, Notre Dame, exhibiting his sapeur skills. Young, almost debutant, sapeurs are encouraged to exhibit their clothing and gestures so as to give them confidence and pride.
Three of the most famous sapeurs of the Mocongo neighborhood get ready to go out on a Sunday afternoon to show off their sapeur skills. Doyen Germain on the left, Walkise in the entrance of his house, and Wily Covary on the right side.
And there you have it, only a few of the pictures and captions that have made my day. After viewing those pictures I think to myself “My gosh, why have not these men been featured in Vogue or GQ (maybe they have and I’m just late). They surely deserve to be on the cover of some major publication”. If you have the time, please read all of the excerpt below (from zonezero.com).
Sape is French slang for “dressing with class”. The French often use the expression “il est bien sape” to talk about a sharp dressed man. The term “sapeur” is a new African word that refers to someone that is dressed with great elegance.However, the Congolese sapeurs are not only concerned about elegance, but also with good manners, politeness and morality. Generally, they only dress up on weekends and special occasions. Designer brands of suits and accessories are a big deal to Sapeurs. Complete attire can cost up to 1500 euros, although ironically, many of them don’t have a job. To get the whole outfit that can get them the sought-after prestige can take several years. Most of them start up with suits borrowed from established sapeurs that initiate them in the secrets of the Sape.The Congolese Sape, except for very rare exceptions, is a man thing, which sometimes is inherited whereas most of the times is acquired by choice.
A sapeur, by definition is a non-violent person, despite the 3 civil wars that have taken place since the independence. They stand for an exquisite morality, but as they say “There can only be Sape when there is peace”. They represent an illusion that has been supported by the government itself, trying to normalize a post-war situation. The Société des Ambienceurs et des Persones Elegantes interrupted its activities when the civil war started in 1997, and did not reinitiate its activities until 2002. Their motto became “Let’s drop the weapons, let us work and dress elegantly.”
They are a symbol of national identity. The common Congolese are proud to be the most elegant among Africans. The sapeurs would be the elite somehow. The famous Kinshasa (capital of RDC or former Zaire) musician Papa Wemba, who often visited Brazzaville, became fascinated by the sapeurs and their ways. It was him who made popular and gave an international dimension to the Sape phenomenon in the 60’s with his songs. They have become somehow a model for the rest of the country. Rich people and especially politicians are forced to dress elegantly and be polite. The most important ministers hired “Romario” the sapeur as an advisor when he returned from Paris.