The Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People



Each copy is signed and numbered by Per-Anders Pettersson. 

Being a Sapeur is more than a way of dressing, more than a hobby and  more than a means of earning money and respect. It's a prestigious brotherhood with its own moral and social codes and ultimately it is a way of life and survival.

Many use it as an escape to forget daily problems and hardships, explaining that the dressing up and parading in the streets makes them feel important, allowing them to forget about their daily struggles in a chaotic Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. While they are often treated as next-door celebrities, their embodied art form brings them both a touch of glamour and a reprieve from the humble, bleak, and even destitute neighbourhoods they have spent their entire lives in. 

Rival Sapeur groups compete for attention and visibility in the streets, at events and on television and radio shows. Most will never experience first hand the sights of the fashion capitals of the world, but the movement should not be narrowly defined as a capitalistic, over-consuming, obsession and imitation of Western standards of beauty and success.

SAPE is a unique subculture within Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. The project was photographed in Kinshasa, DRC 2012-2019 

Per-Anders Pettersson (1967) is a Swedish photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. During his 35-year long career, he has covered a wide range of international news events, the first Gulf War, conflicts in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Haiti. He has worked on assignments and projects in over 100 countries. Since 2000, Pettersson has focused on African stories and long-term projects such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and documenting democracy in South Africa. His pictures have won critical acclaim, awards and been published and exhibited widely. World Press Photo, PDN, POY, NPPA. His first book, Rainbow Transit (Dewi Lewis 2013), looked at democracy in South Africa. His second book, African Catwalk (Kehrer 2016), explored the African fashion industry.

£28.00 hardback
51 colour photographs
112 pages, 226 x 170mm 
ISBN: 9781911306900