Republic of Congo: Love Elegance Pride

Collection with 24 media items created by Patrick

Republic of Congo 08 Mar 2016 00:00

On March 24th, Dennis Sassou Nguesso won the presidential election in the Republic of Congo, making him one the oldest rulers in the continent after winning a referendum last September that changed the constitution, allowing candidates aged over 70 and scrapping the two-term limit. But this small Central African country has a cultural movement that transcends politics and aims to become a national symbol.

Yves François Ngatsongo, also known locally by the nickname Yves Saint Laurent, after the world famous fashion designer, is president of “France Libre”, the first association of Sapeur in the Republic of Congo. “La Sape” (Societé des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes) was born during the colonial years.

What started as a resistance movement toward French ruling quickly became one of Brazzaville´s most characteristic symbols, to the point that Irish beer Guinness used them in one of their commercials as a symbol of authenticity. Taxi drivers, teachers or artisans spend their little wages in expensive clothes from Europe to be part of these African dandies.

Republic Of ... Brazzaville La France Libre Yves Françoi... C Ongolese F... Tailor Fashion Clot... La Sape Sapeurs

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La Sape in Congo 01
Brazzaville
By Patrick
14 Feb 2016

Yves François Ngatsongo founded “La France Libre” in 1996, becoming the first association of Sapeurs in the Republic of Congo.

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La Sape in Congo 02
Brazzaville
By Patrick
27 Feb 2016

“La France Libre” can be hired to promote any kind of activities. In this case, The Ministry of Culture hired its members to go to Brazzaville´s only university, Marien Ngouab, and promote a conference by Beninese speaker Innocent Peya.

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La Sape in Congo 03
Brazzaville
By Patrick
27 Feb 2016

From left to right Yolande, Blandine and “First Lady” Pelagie, Yves François Ngatsongos wife.

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La Sape in Congo 04
Brazzaville
By Patrick
15 Mar 2015

Pelagie was one of the first women to embrace “La Sape”. She wants to create the first women association, “La Déese”. This will give her legitimacy and the opportunity to be hired by the Ministry of Culture.

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La Sape in Congo 05
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Sape is becoming increasingly popular among women. They adopt all the “man” attitude that goes with “La Sape”, including the dress code.

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La Sape in Congo 06
Brazzaville
By Patrick
21 Mar 2015

Sapeurs can also be hired by anyone to promote personal events. “Tapise” during the opening of a night club in Ouenze, Brazzaville.

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La Sape in Congo 07
Brazzaville
By Patrick
21 Feb 2016

Whoever hires them agrees on a fee and covers for transportation and drinks.

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La Sape in Congo 08
Brazzaville
By Patrick
27 Feb 2016

Disagreements are very common when money is distributed. Thibaud argues with other members of “La France Libre”.

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La Sape in Congo 09
Brazzaville
By Patrick
17 Feb 2016

Thibaud is a taxi driver. He makes around $25 per day after paying the owner of the taxi.

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La Sape in Congo 10
Brazzaville
By Patrick
15 Mar 2015

He´s a clear example of what being a Sapeur means to some Congolese who make barely enough to provide for their families. Thibaud´s been saving more than a year to buy a pair of shoes. “It´s a way of life, makes you stand out”.

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La Sape in Congo 11
Brazzaville
By Patrick
17 Feb 2016

Chameleon (right) with his family. He´s a respected member within “La France Libre”.

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La Sape in Congo 12
Brazzaville
By Patrick
26 Feb 2016

He lives in the outskirts of Brazzaville selling pots for up to $50 a piece.

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La Sape in Congo 13
Brazzaville
By Patrick
17 Feb 2016

Most Sapeurs keep a family tradition that sometimes can be traced back to their grand-fathers. Chameleon´s daughter Reine wants to follow the footstep of his father.

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La Sape in Congo 14
Brazzaville
By Patrick
01 Apr 2015

As the world capital of “La Sape”, Brazzaville has dozens of clothing stores like “Paris luxe” where almost any imported item can be found.

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La Sape in Congo 15
Brazzaville
By Patrick
02 Apr 2015

Master Kif has been a tailor for more than 20 years. He runs a small shop in Brazzaville.

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La Sape in Congo 16
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Mar 2016

Yves François Ngatsongo at Maya Maya international Aeroport waiting for the arrival of Paris diaspora.

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La Sape in Congo 17
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Mar 2016

Sapeurs from France, DRC and Ivory Coast came to Brazzaville to be part of the festival that took place on the International Women´s Day.

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La Sape in Congo 18
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

On March 8th, sapeurs from different countries took part in a festival to help promote women sapeurs as part of the International Women´s Day.

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La Sape in Congo 19
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Republic of Congo and DRC have a never ending battle on where “La Sape” was invented. Despite past tensions, this international festival aimed to put aside those differences and bring the two countries closer.

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La Sape in Congo 20
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

“L´Hotel de Préfecture” in Brazzaville became the scenario for this international gathering where Sapeurs from different countries walked the red carpet.

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La Sape in Congo 21
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Yves François Ngatsongo and “La France Libre” did not miss the opportunity to witness this unique event.

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La Sape in Congo 22
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Whereas “Sape” from Republic of Congo has a more classic style, DRC is more extravagant.

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La Sape in Congo 23
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Fulizioni from Paris surrounded by supporters.

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La Sape in Congo 24
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Ahmed Yalla is a wealthy business man that a few years ago decided to promote “La Sape”. Known as “crocodile man” and widely acclaimed as President of all sapeurs, he organised this international festival.