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Congolese "sapeurs" demand official recognition

DRC '' sapeurs''   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Congolese dandies or "sapeurs" gathered in Kinshasa on Friday on the anniversary of the death of Stervos Niarcos, an icon of the Congolese Kitendi (cloth) religion.

The "sapeurs" demand recognition for their art which lies at the centre of a unique culture.

"Today is the 10th of February the anniversary of the death of Stervos Niarcos who has spent 28 years underground, it is like a celebration for us "sappeurs" today" said female dandy Mama Afrika. 

Claudio Benedict Sama Kenegui, a "sapeur" from Brazzaville added "Mr. Niarcos lived in Kinshasa and he also lived in Brazzaville, so for me it is an honour to represent my country today with my colleagues from the DRC to perpetuate this tradition of commemorating this illustrious character who has marked us".

Many "sapeurs" demand official recognition from the government as well as access to the same opportunities given to musicians.

"We sappers are abandoned, you only support the players and musicians. Today, you have taken musicians on tour to Dubai and Turkey. Why not us "sapeurs"? We are artists, we are very efficient", claimed Six Lokoto, a "sapeur" from the Léopards group.

"Sapeur" culture spread in the 60s and 70s in Brazzavile and Kinshasa evolving to become a unique culture.

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