Inspire Me: The Congelese Sape


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.

The sapeur Delegrace is also known as the icon of beautiful colors.

Severin Mouyengo, who has been a sapeur since the seventies, show some of his pictures that prove his past in the Sape movement.

The sapeur Allureux decides to put on his maroon socks because they match perfectly with his elbow tie. The rules of 3 colors- one should not match more than 3 colors at time- is one of the principles of the Sape elegance.

Ferolle Nguaby is dressed in a Scottish kilt an homage to the Prince Charles of Wales. He is part of the Picadily group of sapeurs from the Mungali neighborhood. These sapeurs are, nowadays, among the most innovative in the country.

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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).

The arrival of the French to the Congo, at the beginning of the 20th Century, brought along the myth of Parisian elegance among the Congolese youth working for the colonialists. In 1922, G.A. Matsoua was the first–ever Congolese to return from Paris fully clad as an authentic French gentleman, which caused great uproar and much admiration amongst his fellow countrymen. He was the first Grand Sapeur.Respected and admired in their communities, today’s sapeurs see themselves as artists. Their refined manners and impeccable style in their attire bring a little glamour to their humble surroundings. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bacongo as lords of elegance.

What is Sape and who are the sapeurs :

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.

Importance of the sapeurs in the Congolese culture:


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.

The Other Side of Africa:

The Congolese Sape is also an unknown and extravagant reality that shows to us a different side to Africa, unlike the usual wars, famines, safaris, or papier-mâché tribalism. Poor Africans (the vast majority) also have an everyday life, which is often happy and hopeful despite the hardships. Sape exemplifies this.

Gentleman Interior Part I: A Basic Guide to Spruce Up a Gentleman’s Quarters

A Basic Guide to Spruce Up a Gentleman’s Quarters

Gentlemen, when deciding to spruce up or re-decorate don’t do it in haste. Seriously think about how you want your pad to look. Ask yourself “What don’t I like about my place now?”, “Whose home decor do I really like”, and “What type of ambiance do I want my place to have?” After those three questions you should have a general idea of what you like and don’t like. If you’re sprucing up or doing minor re-decorations then your room already has a look or theme of some sort… you should build upon this. If you’re current theme or room look is very unique and different, you may need to email me so I can help you out one on one, otherwise follow these tips.

Let’s focus on 2 main areas: living room and bedroom

Living Room:

This is usually the main part of the house because it’s the first thing people see. First off, it should be neat and clean, and less is ALWAYS more especially when it comes to a man’s house. SO if you have alot of stuff in your living room- narrow it down to the main pieces (couch, coffee table, side table, lamps). Spruce your living room up by adding artwork- you’d be surprised how much of a difference a couple large art pieces can make. Depending on your current living room theme or look- you may want to opt for a painting or a print. Find an accent color (the second main color) that you want to use in you room- blue, orange, or whatever and make sure that your painting or print has that color in it.

pop art

See, there’s a big difference in the vibe that a print gives versus an actual painting. If you decide to go with a print I suggest pop art- it’s cool and chic. If you opt to get a painting I suggest an abstract painting.

abstract art

At this point you should have a clearer vision of what you want your room to become. If you are lost, then take a look at your print or painting and build your new theme/look around the art. Depending on the current color of your walls I suggest painting one wall a new color. For example if all your walls are white- paint one royal blue, black, or burgundy- whatever color matches best. Painting your wall will make it seem like you totally re-did the house, it’s called the accent wall by the way. Now, we need to just add some finishing touches, by adding a few accent pillows, maybe a new rug- and you’re done. It doesn’t take too much to spruce up the living room: color on one wall, 2 new paintings or prints (they should be framed), pillows, and maybe a few accessories… new shag rug and/or lamp. Oh and let me not forget- a flat screen tv is a must these days… and most stores have good deals on them- so please upgrade if possible.

Bedroom:

The bedroom is the place that most of you are concerned about- for obvious reasons. But I must stress how important it is for the living room (den) to look nice- that’s the first impression you’ll give off to visitors. So please make sure it’s right! Okay, back to the bedroom…

When re-decorating the bedroom, start with the bed spread and sheet colors. You probably already have a color or pattern in mind, if not let’s use the same method we used with the living room- find a painting or print you want to use. From your art, choose a color and base everything around that. In the bedroom decorating is alot easier if you opt for a modern look- it’ll make your place look instantly chic. And you’ll really give off the impression that you have true style and swagger. (The modern look is just an easy way to gain style for those who need help, but if you have style already feel free to go for whatever look you want). Always use soothing colors in the bedroom- cool hues such as blues, purples, blacks, greens. You can use warm colors like- red, yellow, or orange, but they should be an accent color- not a main color. Cool colors make you and your guest feel more relaxed and besides, it’s nice to wake up to a beautiful “cool-toned” room with the sun shining in.


(Oh, and remember this is NOT the time and place to post up your Scarface poster collection, save those things for your theater and game room areas- women like gangster movies just as much as men, but they don’t want to see it while you’re making love, lol)


Once you have your art and colors picked out, you can get bedding to match. Now the core of the room is re-done. Finishing touches would include re-painting furniture, getting new more modern lamps, and/or adding unique accessories.


Possible bedroom upgrades: top-notch mattress, king size bed- it’s just so comfortable.

The two main colors are black and white
orange, zebra, and silver are accents


Suggested colors for redecorating:

If your main color is black try using purple and heather grey as accent colors.
If your main color is brown try using turquoise and burnt orange as accent colors.
If your main color is navy try using brown and white as accent colors.
If your main color is white try using burgundy and stone gray as accent colors.

Places to shop:
- Online stores: Ex: overstock.com
- Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Bed Bath & Beyond.
- Vintage/thrift stores often have unique one of a kind pieces and they have the BEST deals
- T.J Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross
- Clothing stores often sell unique furniture, like Urban Outfitters.
- Check for sales in your local papers, you can find deals at stores like Rooms To Go, American Signature Furniture, Macy’s.
- Don’t be afraid to stop at a yard sell.

Buy Art:
- eBay.com
- art.com
- find an image you like on the internet, take it to Sam’s Club or your local printing shop and get it blown up, then frame it.

Magazines to Help:
- Home Magazine
- Elle Decor
- Tye Pennington At Home
- Metropolitan Home

TV Shows to Help:
- Cribs (MTV)
- Trading Spaces (TLC)
- Design on a Dime
- Extreme Makeover

If you have any specific questions feel free to email me: urbangentblog@gmail.com

Inspirational Photos:



Gentleman Interior: A Man’s Guide to Decor

Throughout the summer I was often emailed by bachelors who asked how they should decorate their pads… I was trying to wait to write an article to answer their questions because I was helping two of my bachelor friends decorate their new condo, and I was going to do a before and after piece. But we got a late start decorating and before we finished I moved to Manhattan… so it is what it is (hopefully I’ll post it at some point this fall though). In the meantime let me help you Urban Gentleman get your pads right!

Now, there are tons of ways to decorate and tons of topics we could go through. But I’m going to focus on 3 main topics:

1. A Basic Guide to Spruce Up a Gentleman’s Quarters
2. Gentleman Decor: How To Decorate
3. Dorm Room Tips for the Urban Gent

Those 3 topics are more of a series that will come over the next few days (or weeks). So the topics are relevant to each of you whether you’re in college, want to decorate a new place, or just want to add some finishing touches or even do some minor re-decorations.

Check out the next post to get- Part I of the UG’s Decor mini-series…

Gentleman Art: Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley born in LA, but based in NY.

The Urban Gentleman is not only well-groomed and dapper he’s also cultured. So as an urban gent you should be up on a little bit of everything from politics to great books, and especially great artists.

One of my favorite artist of our time is Kehinde Wiley. His paintings purely inspire me- they make me think outside of myself… his art is just that deep. Check out this excerpt about Wiley:

Wiley’s paintings often blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation. Rendered in a realistic mode –– while making references to specific old master paintings –– Wiley creates a fusion of period styles, ranging from French rococo, Islamic architecture and West African textile design to urban hip–hop and the “Sea Foam Green” of a Martha Stewart Interiors color swatch. Wiley’s slightly larger than life size figures are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses connote power and spiritual awakening. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.

He charges from $12,000-$40,000 per painting, when I’m balling out of control I’ll be sure to buy one. Until then we can check out his art at The Studio Musuem in Harlem (New York) or at The National Portriat Gallery in Washington D.C.

Check out some original Kehinde Wiley art:




You can check out more Kehinde Wiley HERE.

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