La Societé des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, or simply La Sape, Society for the Advancement of Elegant people is a group of fashionistas you will come across on a visit to the Congo. The movement began in the ‘60s in defiance of then President Mobutu Seseseko who was opposed to everything western or colonial, including western dress.
Sapeurs, as members of La Sape are called, are characterized by a bold exhibition of western style( especially suit and tie) dress. Sapeurs go for designer label attire. Started in the 60’s the Sapeurs are still in existence today, as a number of them grouped up in remembrance of the founder of the group. One would ask of what relevance the society is today as the reign of Mobutu Seseseko is over. However, the group bring a vibrance and allure to the Congo that is definitely what you would see featured on International media channels.
Despite the poverty or whatever other aftermath of war you might find in the Congo, the Sapeurs provide a momentary escape from the negativity; the rainbow after a storm, perhaps.
The society for the advancement of elegant people is quickly getting recognition as they were featured in a 2014 guiness ad.
BY ESTHER KARIUKI