‘It was edgy. As I followed the sapeurs through the streets, the traffic slowed, and bus drivers blew their horns in respect at the display. We stopped at a makeshift bar, and I bought a few rounds of beer. We danced to a loud speaker system, among friends and family, and then an hour or two later, left to parade through the main marketplace, to an almighty cheer. I was walking behind Bifouma, a magnificently dressed grandmother, with hair dyed in the colours of the Congo flag, her neat waist pinched with a perfectly tailored suit in lipstick red. Her two young grandsons were primped and preened in suits; they moved through the street, pirouetting and jiving, as if they were dancing to music inside their heads.’
‘It was a perfect example of how the sapeur tradition works as an act of defiance. The boys were orphans, and Bifouma wanted to teach them pride. That’s why they had all joined La Sape. It was a way of simultaneously escaping and challenging the problems life had thrown at them.’
Do have a read to hear the rest of Roberts’ adventures or if you’re interested in arranging a trip to the Republic of the Congo then please do get in touch and one of our destination specialists would be happy to start the conversation.