The Book: Gentlemen of Bakongo x Daniele Tamagni

The Sapeurs of Bacongo

Now this looks like it’d be an interesting read and I love these images. Daniele Tamagni wonders into the world of Congo’s fashion elite, the Sapeurs.


These sapeurs are the male equivalent of a fashionista (Fashiomista maybe?) and Gentleman of Bakongo, looks at the intriguing world of these designer clad gentlemen.

Check out the following book blurb from Amazon:

The arrival of the French and Belgians to the Congo, at the beginning of the 20th Century, brought along the myth of Parisian elegance among the Congolese youth working for the colonialists.

In 1922, G.A. Matsoua was the first ever Congolese to return from Paris fully clad as an authentic French gentleman, which caused great uproar and much admiration amongst his fellow countrymen. He was the first Grand Sapeur.

The Sapeurs today belong to Le SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants )- one of the world’s most exclusive clubs…. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bakongo as lords of elegance…

Unlike some US hip-hop gangs who are dressed in similar fine threads, there is no bloodshed here, here your clothes do all the fighting for you, otherwise you are not fit to be called a Sapeur.

[via Selectism]

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.


  • Reply November 24, 2009


    I'll be checking for this one. It seems like it will be an interesting read.

  • Reply November 24, 2009


    Oh wow I never could have believed that they made a book about that!
    I'm Congolese and unfortunately the "Sapeurs" as they are known have now become the base of a lot of jokes just because the younger generation's looks have become so ugly and there's no more elegance in what they wear.
    There was even a movie made about those fashionistas in the 80's I believe.
    Anyways thanks for the Info, will definitely buy this book for my dad.
    One present down!

  • Reply December 3, 2009


    I remember watching a documentary about sapeurs and congolese music when I was younger and it featured Papa Wemba…very intriguing.

  • […] mentioned the Sapeurs a few times on the blog the first was in relation to a book, the other was about a series of photographs, and the most recent was on their appearance in […]

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