How to survive Kinshasa?

Sapeur complaining it’s hard to get a visa to travel to the West

How to survive the inconveniences of daily life in Kinshasa, DR Congo? And we’re not talking about little stuff, either: power cuts every few hours; no paycheck for months on end; a constant risk of catching malaria; corrupt civil servants and politicians trying to blackmail you; an enormous gap between rich and poor; non existing public transport; very bad roads; the list of things that do work as they should would probably be considerably shorter.

The ‘Sapeurs’ choose for their own kind of escapism: gentle, funny, creative – and hugely expensive. Every day, they dress up in designer clothes and show off (Yamamoto, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Ferrè, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger & tutti quanti). SAPE stands for Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Élégantes, and that is exactly what their mission in life is: to be elegant and entertain.

They get their outfits straight from the West, from family members who live there. We spoke to Sapeurs in Kinshasa and found out the Sape is much more then dressing up: it’s an art, it’s a religion. More about it in our next magbook, about Congolese artists living as free movers between Brussels and Kinshasa.

Meanwhile enjoy the pictures and film made by Congolese artist Yves Sambu.

(text by Veerle Devos)