By Ntumba Mukendi
Photos by Daniele Tamagni
It all started with Papa Wemba and his entourage, a legendary Congolese singer and lead actor in the classic Congolese movie “La Vie Est Belle”. In 1979, after returning from the Afrisa trip to Europe, Wemba began promoting the Sapeur (‘Société Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants’) as a youth cult specifically centered around Viva La Musica band and its music. They started wearing expensive European close in a Congolese style. Baggie dress pants pulled up above the waiste-line to the chest which facilitated a visual for the dance moves.
Today La Sape continues in bright clashing colors which reminds you of the nature of many African fabrics.
Although many cannot afford the life-style, it is a way of celebrating life and one’s own unique cultural style
About Ntumba Mukendi (Fashion Designer, Fashion Commentator and Founder of ntumba.ntumba apparel organization)
Congolese born Ntumba Mukendi is a fashion designer who previously worked at Tommy Hilfiger, then launched her own brand ntumba.ntumba design (www.ntumbantumbadesign.com). Her company utilizes authentic African fabric to help boost the African economy. Ntumba is also the founder of the fashion-based organization ntumba.ntumba apparel (www.ntumbantumba.org) which promotes gender-empowerment. She was recently given the honors to provide the fashion commentaries for the African Diaspora Awards 2013 on the red carpet.