The Joy of Living, or as French speakers would call it – Joie de Vivre can be the only way to mention this extraordinary group of men who may not have money, but know how to dress. The imagined lives that these men create for themselves creates a new dimension to the concept of living a “full life”, because the La Sape create their own happiness. This was the most important lesson I learned on my twelfth day in Yeoville whilst conducting an interview with the vice president of the African Diaspora Forum, Jean-Pierre Lukamba. Lukamba pointed out the most important aspects of being a La Sape mean creating a home away from home through their different cultural practices. Sapologie came out of the Congo as an attempt to re-define the ideas associated with the Congolese, particularly after the civil war.
“The problem about the Sapeur is that people are passionate about that movement and they don’t have money, they end up doing criminal activity,” said Lukamba who suggested that the Yeoville community of La Sape are not wealthy and tend to be far more extravagant than other La Sape to prove their standing on the hierarchy of sapologie. This made me realize that the nature of things in Yeoville, “Everyone just wants to be acknowledged” and with the danger that this blog post may fall into an Oprah quote session, my twelfth day in the community mades me realize just how much people are willing to tell their story to anyone who is willing to listen to them.
Today I also found myself in Rue du Faubourg, aptly named after the street with the same name in Paris, France. The Rue du Faubourg in Yeoville is supposedly where the La Sape spend most of their time buying suits and shoes, which can cost anywhere between R5000,00 to R20 000,00, depending on the type of material and tailoring is required said marketing manager at the store Shado Dlamini. These prices are surprising in an area where they are 1 189 people who do not have a formal income, but “many people buy from this store,” confirmed Dlamini.