Thumb sm
Republic of Congo: Love Elegance Pride
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
La Sape in Congo 23
Brazzaville
By Patrick
08 Mar 2016

Fulizioni from Paris surrounded by supporters.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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”.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
La Sape in Congo 07
Brazzaville
By Patrick
21 Feb 2016

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

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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”.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 16
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

DRC contestants Soudi Fatou (left) and Thethe Ntumba talk backstage between acts.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 17
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

Stella gets her make up done for the “native” part of the event, where music from all 5 countries is played.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 18
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

One of the many wardrobe changes that take place during the event.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 19
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

The view from backstage as participants in Miss Mama Kilo 2015 enter the stage.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 20
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

The "native" performance is the last act contestants have to perform alone in front judges and a packed crowd.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 21
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

Soudi Fatou dances during the native performance. This year's jury came from Mali, Ivory Coast and Benin.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 22
Brazzaville
By Patrick
04 Apr 2015

Nelly Okombi, from Republic of Congo, won the 7th edition of Miss Mama Kilo. As the new Miss Mama Kilo, she gets a weekend trip to Paris offered by one of the sponsors. This is Congo's third crown in seven years, but all of the contestants received cash prizes regardless of the their result.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 10
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

Preparations continue until the day of the event at the Olympic Palace Hotel.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 11
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

The event starts at 19H00, however contestants arrive early in the morning to get their hair and make up done.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 12
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

Two contestants help each other prepare their hair in the backstage area of Miss Mama Kilo 2015.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 13
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

Make up artists work all night on the day of Miss Mama Kilo. The event has 6 wardrobe changes, and contestants' makeup has to match each style.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 14
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

Stella waits with the other contestants in anticipation, just moments before going on stage.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 15
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

All 18 contestants carry their countries' flags. Republic of Congo was the most represented with five contestants.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 23
Brazzaville
By Patrick
03 Apr 2015

Nelly Okombi from Congo took home the title of Miss Mama Kilo 2015.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 07
Brazzaville
By Patrick
02 Apr 2015

The last rehearsal takes place at the Olympic Palace Hotel the day before the ceremony.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 08
Brazzaville
By Patrick
02 Apr 2015

Magalie Opangot from Republic of Congo (left) and Jenny Elongo from Central African Republic share a moment together during rehearsal. It´s the third time they participate side by side in Miss Mama Kilo.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 09
Brazzaville
By Patrick
02 Apr 2015

Rosine surveys the runway during the last rehearsal at the Continental Palace Hotel. She directs contestants with a firm hand at all times.

Thumb sm
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.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 05
Brazzaville
By Patrick
01 Apr 2015

Stella Amoussou, from Porto Novo, Benin, runs a little cosmetic shop in Brazzaville with her family.

Thumb sm
Miss Mama Kilo 2015 06
Brazzaville
By Patrick
01 Apr 2015

Julie Mangono, a comedian from Kinshasa, and Stella are close. Miss Mama Kilo has a friendly atmosphere where contestants always help each other out.