Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Tchicaya U Tamsi

Elegant Niggers in white masks Society? Who are these SAPE members?

There was this trend in the 80’s in Congo Brazzaville, a former French colony, when the expatriates from the Congo to France would return for the Summer vacation season.  These fresh comers would be dressed in the latest European fashion such as made by Cerruti, Gian Franco Ferre, Gianni Versace, Enrico Coveri,  Francesco Smalty, Yves St. Laurent, Armani, Guy Laroche…Weston and Church…

(I wonder, how they managed to earn enough to bring so many fashionable dresses and shoes… in order to “save face” toward their countrymen who didn’t get the opportunity to leave yet?)

Tchicaya U Tamsi from Togo wrote:

“One day, we have got to walk

With the high winds,

A wandering tree leave landing

On a heap of dung, a bonfire…

I inhabited a country of music

Inaccessible to the ear,

What went wrong in my life

Blame it on my legs, never on my heart… 

The general idea of this “Clothing religion” (Ya kitendi religion) was that “No matter how elegantly the European try to dress, if the Africans didn’t try on the latest fashion designed by Europeans, it will never look elegant on the White people...”

The ideology of “authenticity of the African Black customs and the rest…” was not in the program: What counted was: “Have you been away from your home State, have you visited part of the world, the triumphal return to the homeland, transformed in a white mask…

Looking elegant is an entire program of initiation, learning, practising, and keeping at it all the way.  For example, the black skin had to vanish in thin air, to be replaced by the color of yellow banana (the best that “skin de-blacking” products could reach)…

For that end, the young “Ambiance elegant persons society” SAPE members had to descend to the economic Capital of Point Noire in Congo and purchase the color “de-niggering” chemical products such as Green and Red Ambi, Diprosone, Dop, Venus…

What was the process?

The member of SAPE was not to take any shower or wash for an entire month, and he had to wear two to three layers of clothes in order to sweat profusely, and experience the skin breaking down, and wait for the lesions to heal slowly… Plenty of suffering and patience before the skin turns banana yellow…

Most of theses individuals in older age witnessed skin cancer and saw black blotches disfiguring their faces and skin: Once used, you had got to continue using the dangerous products if you wanted to maintain the yellowish skin color…

It was a must for the SAPE addicts to converge to a place called “Total Market” to exhibit their elegance: The King of the SAPE was elected there. Who the French magazines (Paris-Match, Le nouvel Observateur…) elected didn’t count: The real election test had to take place at Bacongo (the birth place of SAPE movement). For example, Djo Balard (in the movie Black micmac), had to face-off with Pechard (wearing Scots tunic),  Guy Freddy, Thomas Mbongoque…

It was no longer “Black is beautiful”, but rather how elegantly Blacks of Africa carry their stature, move, walk, talk… A SAPE famous member would shave on the front porch, in front of his admirers (ngembo), and relatives would be shining his shoes, and suggesting the “must locations” to visit in order to show-off their illustrious relative coming from France…

The famous singers in Congo relayed and disseminated the SAPE “ideology”. Papa Wemba (Viva la Musica), Emeneya Kester (Victoria Eleison), Koffi Olomide (Quatier Latin)…spread the culture of the SAPE proclamation…

Who emulated who? The SAPE or the drug leaders and rich rap musicians in the USA?  

It is to be noted that the Rep. of the Congo at the time was a communist State and the SAPE trend degenerated into mafia groups dealing in almost everything and terrorizing the citizens in the major cities of Congo Brazzaville.

Elegance has nothing to do with wealth discrimination: The wealthiest White American Anglo-Protestants didn’t display their arrogance and racism through ostentatious attires, but rather wearing cloths a little nicer than the  common people…The worst kind of devilish smokescreen display of commonality…Until liberal capitalism of the 90’s broke down all the red lines in decency…

Note 1: Topic extracted from a chapter in “Writers and migrating bird” by Alain Mabanckou from the Rep.of the Congo

Note 2: During the long reign of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko over Zaire (The Belgium former Congo colony), he coined the useless currency Zaire. The people flocked to communist Congo Brazzaville, just to be paid in real money, the French CFA.  

Do Currency rules over political systems? Is that how the former colonial powers maintained their positions in the newly independent African States?

Note 3:  In the 80’s, Zaire tried an incursion into Congo Brazzaville and the troops were repulsed.  It was not easy to round up the remaining troops since the citizens in both States speak the same language, look the same, and are from the same tribe.  

The pronunciation of a stupid vowel “u” uncovered the people from Zaire who pronounced the French vowels “u” as “i”:  For example saying “sicre” instead of  sucre (sugar).  The same would happen during Lebanon long civil war: To differentiate between the Lebanese Moslems and the Palestinian Moslems, you had to say “banadoura” (tomato) instead of “bandoura”, for example.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2020
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