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War Famine Poverty & Elegance in the Congo

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posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 07:24 AM
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For over 100 yrs the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo (once the French Congo & Belgian Congo) have been a hotbed of war corruption and starvation. The Republic of Congo (French) was the only African Marxist Country having obtained independence from France in 1960 aligned itself with Russia China & North Vietnam whilst the Democratic Republic of Congo (Belgian) also granted independence in 1960 was largely supported by the USA due to its anti-communist stance. Despite independence, both countries have had years of warfare and internal strife resulting in numerous changes of governments coups and corrupt leaders, the sufferers of this bad management of course were once again the people. It is estimated that over 5.4m people have died in the Congo with a life expectancy of around 53yrs.

Against this backdrop of poverty war and social upheaval, a group emerged in the 1970's attributed to musician Papa Wemba, called Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elégantes or SAPE and thus an amazing people were born finding happiness and elegance in the ruins of post colonnial Congo....the Sapeurs from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo a commune of sorts for musicians and artists, (note adherence to the "3 colours only" rule)


Flamboyant colourful and ultimately stylish, these guys and now gals (the sapeuse) bring fun and frivolity to an otherwise pretty bleak existence. They are loved and hated but always turn heads and create gossip (especially the women Sapeuses who are often presumed to be lesbians but in fact rarely are), the ultimate goal of the Sapeur, a testament to their hard work and imagination.

Based on old colonial French & Belgian style, they are often referred to as a cult but the Sapeurs themselves insist they are a religion. They are all devout Christians rarely drink NEVER do drugs and have a strict code of conduct the primary rule being one of being a true gentleman/woman. Now arguments abound on whether this style is an embracing of European colonialism, a pastiche of their oppressor's style or whether these people have bravely taken that style and adapted it with their own, with some even going as far as to say that these people have been hoodwinked into further glamourising their ex masters. When Congolese immigrants returned home ladened with French Parisian goodies, these extroverts took it upon themselves to find a little glamour and style with a vibrant African twist in very sad depressing circumstances and I for one, don't blame them. Either way, the growing movement has even attracted the likes of Guinness who made an advert featuring some of the Sapeurs which personally I think is fabulous and shows how age is no barrier to Sapeurism but lack of style is

just 1.5mins long



The Sapeurs almost religious adherence to civility gentlemanly conduct and sense of propriety are a stark contrast, and purposefully so, to the harsh realities of life in the Congo region. Now some ladies of the Congo have also joined the ranks of the Sapeurs called Sapueses, their style being quite close to that of their male counterparts, manly pinstripe suits shirts and ties and the ultimate in joi de vivre despite the raging heat, and again age is definitely no barrier to joining this wholly inclusive club (they discriminate only against lack of style!)




Whilst their streets maybe crammed with starving children and overflowing with rubbish, the Sapeurs will go without food themselves in order to get the latest Dolce & Gabbana or Dior piece. Often, groups will meet once a week and swap clothes, then they will adapt and change them to fit their own particular style, they will work 2-3 jobs to enable them to purchase a couple of designer items a month, they will buy from the black market Ebay anywhere they can to remain stylish, and many are tailors themselves who scrape together enough to buy luxury fabrics to make their own clothes with their own stamp on them, their one other rule however is sacrosanct NO CHINESE MADE CLOTHING oh and no more than 3 colours in any one outfit excluding white.



Whilst dismissed as frivolous, I believe the Sapeurs bring much to the Congolese, happiness elegance class and colour. You can watch videos of the Sapeurs wandering the streets of Congo and people laughing pointing and staring, the Sapoeurs bread & butter, which gives back to the people in imagination colour and extravagance showing that poverty doesn't have to mean dirty poor and unstylish, indeed the Sapeurs long & intensive grooming regime again says that you don't have to be dirty and unhygenic if poor. Love 'em or hate 'em....I love them and think they are a bright shiney light in a desert of darkness

This is my favourite picture


The Sapeurs....a quiet rebellion against being defined by poverty
edit on 16-9-2017 by PhyllidaDavenport because: (no reason given)

edit on 16-9-2017 by PhyllidaDavenport because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 07:34 AM
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Another look...



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 07:35 AM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport

Beautiful thread. Bravo!


These people have been on MTV years ago and stuck in my memory. Fancyass fashions have always stood out amongst the poor of all countries. People with zip still love to peacock and have colours surrounding them.


The #ing Belgians decamped and left the Congolese zero infrastructure. In fact, they deliberately created an army that had no black men in the upper ranks and schools with no black teachers. They left behind an untrained military and a population who hadn't been trusted to be taught accounting or how to fix machinery brought over by the #ing Belgians. Socioeconomic hamstringing at its finest.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 07:38 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

Yup seen that video just fabulous...despite everything
And they pass these morals and principles onto their children, with fathers teaching sons the Sapeur way, in particular hygiene and grooming



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 07:55 AM
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a reply to: SilverOwls


The #ing Belgians decamped and left the Congolese zero infrastructure. In fact, they deliberately created an army that had no black men in the upper ranks and schools with no black teachers. They left behind an untrained military and a population who hadn't been trusted to be taught accounting or how to fix machinery brought over by the #ing Belgians. Socioeconomic hamstringing at its finest.

Another word for that is Colonialism. A gentile euphemism for slave state. Like most of The African Continent, kept impoverished and exploited for natural resources.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 08:06 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

Without turning my own thread into a colonialsm thread, they were poor before colonialism, they were dying in droves before colonialism and there were few if any jobs that gave them an income. Then came colonialism and things changed...its what happens....there is a big guy and a little guy..the little guy learns from the big guy and learns to run their own country in a manner conducive to improving their lot...unless youre an African country when you blame the white man and then accept their handouts for life

Either way
My thread is a celebration of happiness out of utter despondency



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 08:15 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: SilverOwls


The #ing Belgians decamped and left the Congolese zero infrastructure. In fact, they deliberately created an army that had no black men in the upper ranks and schools with no black teachers. They left behind an untrained military and a population who hadn't been trusted to be taught accounting or how to fix machinery brought over by the #ing Belgians. Socioeconomic hamstringing at its finest.

Another word for that is Colonialism. A gentile euphemism for slave state. Like most of The African Continent, kept impoverished and exploited for natural resources.


True, true, true. CIA was in there throughout the 50s and 60s. They've never left anywhere in a better condition than they found it hahaha. Find unstable nation and ruin it even more.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 08:37 AM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport
The King of Belgium did no favors for the people of Congo. In fact, entire generations of people had their hands chopped off and forced to work with only one as a pre-emptive defense to rebellion. The people of Congo were only poor when measured against the industrial imperialists. They were quite rich in culture and resources, they simply lacked the education and technological prowess, which saviors from Europe were more than happy to provide at the cost of horrendous and atrocious crimes against humanity. Something like half the population was killed during the Free State period.

Wiki
Abuses, especially in the rubber industry, included the forced labor of the native population, beatings, widespread killing, and frequent mutilation when the production quotas were not met.[16] Missionary John Harris of Baringa was so shocked by what he had come across that he wrote to Leopold's chief agent in the Congo, saying:

"I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable. I was so moved, Your Excellency, by the people's stories that I took the liberty of promising them that in future you will only kill them for crimes they commit."[17]



King Leopold II of Belgium was responsible for the deaths and mutilation of 10 million Congolese Africans during the late 1800’s. The spoils of modern day Belgium owes much to the people of the Congo River Basin.
In the 23 years (1885-1908) Leopold II ruled the Congo he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, starving them into forced labour, holding children ransom and burning villages. The ironic part of this story is that Leopold II committed these atrocities by not even setting foot in the Congo.
It must be noted however, that whilst much attention has been given to Leopold’s atrocities in the Congo, in the same period acts of brutality were being committed on native peoples elsewhere in the world. Britain on the Aborigines in Australasia, the United States on native Americans and Pilipino , French on Northwest Congolese, Spanish on the north and central native Americans, Portuguese on the Angolans and Amazonians and Germans on Southwest Africans. However, so severe was the brutality of the genocide in Leopold’s Congo that many a European visitor publicly condemned Leopold and the Belgium government. The veracity of the crimes was so well known that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned the book, “The crime of the Congo” in 1909, highlighting the plight of the Congolese.

Read more:Digital Journal

No, King Leopold did the Congo zero favors. Instead of being a good steward of humanity and bringing the people up, he went full on Barbarian on the people. All of Europe and America have their history of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the 19th and 20th centuries to thank for our prosperity today.

To this day it is still being exploited by outside powers like much of the continent.

However, if China sinks its teeth into it, the country will prosper. They do business a little different than those of us in Europe and North America. Our deals come with unlubricated rapings at gunpoint. Theirs tend to be a bit more mutually beneficial, without the threat of funding insurrection and over throws of uncooperative leaders.

China will take over influence in Africa if the old powers do not change their policies.
At least some of the people there can continue to maintain their style through it all.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 09:19 AM
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a reply to: worldstarcountry

Thank you for your contribution but my thread is not about colonialism but in fact the opposite



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 10:03 AM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport

Wow! Thanks for this, fascinating cultural paradigm.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 10:07 AM
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Some of the guys look like the character Mr. Anansi from American Gods who had a similar style to this. Very cool Original Post, thanks for putting this up.





edit on 16-9-2017 by AugustusMasonicus because: Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 10:25 AM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport

Oh these people are Awesooooome
Thanks so much for sharing! How inspiring and delightful
!



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 10:34 AM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport
Yea thats fine and dandy, but it almost sounded as if you attempted to paint Leopold and Belgium in a good light during the Free State period. I just wanted to make sure the viewers had all the correct background information. its kind of hard not to blame the light skinned occupier when he wipes out half their population, prevents them from forming the institutions that keeps a society stable and prosperous and generally sets the development of an entire society back a hundred years.

As to the primary focus of the OP, are these contests they hold for best dressed type of awards? or do they just go to show their stuff?? These folks could easily capitalize on this as some kind of annual or quarterly event and turn it into a festival. That would do well for additional economic development in their community.

Festivals and shows are awesome!
edit on 9-16-2017 by worldstarcountry because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 11:11 AM
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My wife will flip out over this!
She spent her high school years at the American School in Kinshasa back when the country was still called Zaire.
(folks were Methodist missionaries)
After all the years of negative publicity it is a real breath of fresh air to see vibrant, happy people in the Congo. There is a long, dark and terrible history of genocide and slaughter that many if not most aren't even aware of.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 11:57 AM
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originally posted by: PhyllidaDavenport
a reply to: intrptr

Without turning my own thread into a colonialsm thread, they were poor before colonialism, they were dying in droves before colonialism and there were few if any jobs that gave them an income. Then came colonialism and things changed...its what happens....there is a big guy and a little guy..the little guy learns from the big guy and learns to run their own country in a manner conducive to improving their lot...unless youre an African country when you blame the white man and then accept their handouts for life

Either way
My thread is a celebration of happiness out of utter despondency


I would ask where the money comes from in all that poverty to afford such fine clothes. Answer that and you'll also understand why Africa as a whole is so poor despite being the most resource rich.

Colonialism and Crony-ism go hand in hand. Sorry to not play along with your idea of utter happydespondance.

By the by poor does not mean without money. Unless your a colonialist.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 12:18 PM
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I am going to party with these guys when I go down there.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 12:21 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr

I would ask where the money comes from in all that poverty to afford such fine clothes.


It's in the Original Post, did you bother reading it?


...they will work 2-3 jobs to enable them to purchase a couple of designer items a month.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 12:25 PM
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]originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus


...they will work 2-3 jobs to enable them to purchase a couple of designer items a month.

All those jobs and still, all that poverty. Read between the OP-inions...

I don't care what the Dandies say about their vanities.
edit on 16-9-2017 by intrptr because: change



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 12:28 PM
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a reply to: intrptr


That's nice. However it has nothing to do with the Original Post, which you obviously didn't read.



posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 12:31 PM
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originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus
a reply to: intrptr


That's nice. However it has nothing to do with the Original Post, which you obviously didn't read.


The OP is an opinion, not a link. The Dandys themselves make statements in the RT segment I linked (which you obviously didn't watch) are far more telling.




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