“In life you cannot always choose your circumstances,
but you can always choose who you are.”
La Sape is the short name of the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, which translates to the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People. Sapeurs (members of La Sape) are known for their courtly manners, strutting demeanor, and fancy, brightly-colored clothes. They affect these clothes and these ways as a means of protest against the harsh, poverty-stricken neighborhoods in which they live. Begun in Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, the movement has begun to spread to other communities as well.
“It is not the cost of the suit that counts, but the worth of the man inside it.” – A Sapeur
Sapeurs can spend thousands of dollars on their clothing, although they’re by no means rich. In fact, in the Congo, an average salary is only $300 per month, and unemployment is rampant. Many of the Sapeurs rent out their clothing to make a living. Those lucky enough to travel bring back designer clothes and sell them for a small profit.
I think this is one of the most fascinating forms of social demonstration I’ve ever heard of. These dandies are doing something for their communities than many other well-meaning relief efforts don’t do. They are a living reminder that life doesn’t have to be ugly. They represent hope and joy and the finer things in life, and I think it’s a shame there aren’t more groups like this in more depressed areas of the world.
Beauty and bright colors for everyone!