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THE CONGOLESE SAPE #1. Brazzaville.


Héctor Mediavilla

SAPE: Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes Avec l’arrivée des Français au Congo au début du XX siècle, naquit le mythe de l’élégance parisienne parmi les jeunes qui travaillaient pour les colons. Ils étaient nombreux à considérer l’homme blanc comme supérieur pour sa sophistication et son élégance. En 1922, G.A. Matsoua fut le premier Congolais à revenir de Paris habillé comme un vrai Monsieur Français, provoquant une grande admiration auprès de ses compatriotes. Il devint ainsi le premier grand sapeur. Respectés et admirés par leur communauté, les sapeurs d’aujourd’hui se considèrent comme des artistes. Avec leurs manières raffinées et leur style vestimentaire impeccable, ils apportent une touche de glamour dans leur humble entourage. Chacun d’eux possède son propre répertoire de gestes qui le distingue des autres. Ils poursuivent un grand rêve : voyager à Paris et revenir à Brazzaville en tant qu’ambassadeurs de l’élégance.


 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063048

The sapeur Lamame leaves his home, in very poor condition since the last civil war (1997-2001), to show off in his neighbourhood a Sunday afternoon.

Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 17/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063173

The sapeur Lamame, also known as the Old Parisian, walks on the rocks of the Congo river falls that, despite their name, they are only some rapids. However they are pretend to be a touristic attraction. Some young nacked men are taking a bath and washing their clothes in the river as usually when Lamame arrives to visit the site.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 08/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063167

The sapeur Lamame cleans his shoes with a tissue whereas his pipe lies on a blue plastic table of a Cafe-Bar in Avenue Matsoua. It is plenty of peanuts peels on the ground: they are a popular snack in Congo.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 08/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063165

Stephane Mouzieto is followed by some children when he walks in un unpaved street of the Bacongo neighborhood. He imitates his uncle, the famous KVV Mouzieto, a grand sapeur who lives in Paris. He also covers his eye with an eye patch like his uncle.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 22/10/2004

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Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063164

A young sapeur of puts his yellow tie inside the Catholic church of Notre Dame. Today, a mess dedicated to the youth of this poor area is taking place. Young, almost debutant, sapeurs are encouraged to exhibit their clothing and gestures so as to give them confidence and pride. The father of this Catholic church used to be a well known sapeur who lived in Paris for some time.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 17/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063188

Three of the most active group of sapeurs called the Picadilly group walk in a Mungali neighborhood avenue a Saturday evening. These sapeurs are among the most innovative supeurs nowadays.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063186

The group of sapeurs of the Bacongo neighborhood pose during the concert of The Paradise Orchrestra that belongs to the former health Miniter Mr. Opimba. From left to right, Walkise, Willy Covary, Nguaby and Doyen Germain.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 10/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063184

The sapeur Walkese, an important sapeur of the Bacongo neighborhood, regards himself in the mirror of his room before going out.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063168

Aymard Champion, a sapeur of the Picadilly group takes a ride in a taxi to go to a wedding celebration in the city centre. He holds a golden box of cigarettes on his right hand while he gestures with a unlit cigarette.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 10/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063185

Burial of a well known sapeur called Jean Patrice "Damas" Massamba at the "Ma Campagne" christian graveyard in the outskirts of Brazzaville.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 16/12/2005

Autorisation orale uniquement. Only for distribution in France and Belgium.

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063222

The sapeur Bienvenu Mouzieto stands in a hairdressing salon in the Bacongo suburb of Brazzaville. One of the rules of the sapeurs elegance is that one can combine a maximum of three different colors.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/12/2005

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Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0037428

Sapeur Lamam gets dressed in his room to go out to show the Sape, a Sunday afternoon..

Brazzaville, Congo - 18/05/2003

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063199

The sapeur Lamame is about to leave his home so as to show off a Sunday afternoon

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 05/10/2004

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Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063198

The sapeur Lamame takes a ride in a taxi to the outskirts of Brazzaville. In this occasion he is dressed on a tail coat and covers his right eye with a black patch.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 03/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063182

The sapeur Severin sits with his old sick father in the living room of the family's house. Having a fridge and electricity at home is a symbol of status in such a place as Congo.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 05/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063195

The sapeur Severin, also known as the Japan ambassador, shows a portrait of his father, who was also a sapeur, in the living room of the family house. It is decorated with many portraits of relatives and religious propaganda. Most Congolese are quite religious; Catholic and Christian evangelist churches are the preferred among sapeurs.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 05/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063183

Hassan Salvador, the leader of the Picadilly group of sapeurs walks in a Poto Poto neighborhood street, in front of a building severy damaged during the combats of the last civil war (1997-2001).

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 04/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063194

The sapeur Willy Covari, one of the most admired sapeurs of the Bacongo neighborhood, walks with his two children in his plot.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/12/2005

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Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063216

Severin Mouyengo, sapeur since the seventies, is about to cross Avenue Matsoua, the historical avenue of the Bacongo neighborhood that used to be the only runway of the first Congolese airport.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 03/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063209

The sapeur Delagrace, also known as the icon of beautiful colors, walks along an unpaved street of Brazzaville.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 02/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063207

The sapeur Lamame shows off in the Matsoua avenue.

Brazzaville, Congo - 20/10/2004

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063191

The sapeur Lamame drinks a local beer whereas a little girl stares at him astonished. They are in a bar in Avenue Matsoua a Sunday afternoon, the moment where most sapeurs like to show themselves.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/05/2003

Autorisation orale uniquement. Only for distribution in France and Belgium.

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063206

Un grupo de sapeurs toma algo en la terraza de un bar tras el funeral de un amigo. Como es habitual en Africa, vecinos y amigos festejan tras el entierro del difunto. ------ A group of sapeurs sit in a terrace bar after being at the funeral of a friend. As usual in Africa, neighbords and friends party after the burial.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 06/10/2004

Autorisation orale uniquement. Only for distribution in France and Belgium.

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063187

Some sapeurs from the Picadilly group from Mungali show off in a Poto Poto avenue a Saturday evening

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 17/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063204

The sapeur Delagrace, also known as the icon of beautiful colors, gets a jacket from the hanger of the wall of his room.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 02/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063203

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

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 03/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063201

The sapeur Delagrace, also know as the Beautiful colors icon, arrives at home after being at the press office where he works. His girlfriend is waiting for him.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo, la république démocratique du - 02/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063200

The sapeur Bienvenu Mouzieto is about to finish to dress him up in his room before going out in the Bacongo neighborhood.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063220

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

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 18/05/2003

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063218

A young relative of the sapeur Lamame helps him to put the bow tie properly in the entrance of this room. There are many bullet holes on the wall as a result of the combats of the last civil war (1997-2001).

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 06/10/2004

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Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063217

The sapeur Yves François Ngatsongo, also known as Yves Saint Laurent, is the president and founder of the France Libre association. He walks up the stairs of the storey building were he lives in down town. This and other buildings, rather damaged by the combats of the last civil war, 1997-2001, have been squated mainly by Northist people related to the army.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 19/12/2005

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063215

The sapeur Delagrace, also known as the icon of beautiful colors, walks along an unpaved street of Brazzaville.

Brazzaville, Congo - 02/01/2006

 

Héctor Mediavilla / Picturetank MEH0063214

The sapeur Bienvenu Mouzieto poses in front of his house in the Bacongo neighborhood.

Brazzaville, Brazzaville, Congo - 12/10/2004



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