You got the Guns and you got the Butta.
The guns be shit that appreciate. Art, investments and such.
Butta. That be shit that Depreciates. Cars, clothes and such.
-Ving Rhames, Baby Boy (Paraphrased)
When I first saw the article on the "Sape's" of the DRC the famous "Guns and Butter" speech by Ving Rhames' Character in Baby Boy jumped to mind.
The DRC is one very poor country. Didn't have to be since it has a great deal of mineral wealth, but thanks to the US and Belgium, it is what it is. When Mobutu left the DRC he left the country with very little cash. The war that took him out fed into another three way war that has caused the death of some 3 million people. So in light of the very real hard work that needs to be done in that country we find this:
In a country where many survive on 30 cents a day, Papy Mosengo is flashing $1,000 worth of designer clothing on his back, from the Dolce & Gabbana cap and Versace stretch shirt to his spotless white Gucci loafers.
"It makes me feel so good to dress this way," the 30-year-old said when asked about such conspicuous consumption in a city beset by unemployment, crime and homelessness. "It makes me feel special."
Special is one word you could use. Full disclosure: I live in a country where people make far more than 30 cent a day and I currently, as of this writing have exactly $92 worth of clothes on right now. So what kind of "special" is this "Pappy" to think that he is impressing any one other than people as dumb and lacking in foresight as himself, by wearing $1,000 dollar outfits so...
He worked eight months at his part-time job at a money-exchange shop to earn enough for the single outfit, one of 30 he owns, so he'll never have to wear the same one twice in a month.
While this idiot is trapesing around like a monkey he is doing the following:
He lets an ex-girlfriend support their
5-year-old son and still lives with his parents, sleeping in a dingy, blue-walled bedroom that is more aptly described as a closet with a mattress.
So while the Chinese will inevitably be building roads, schools and other things for the DRC in the near future this is what some of the "brothers" are doing:
their only money coming from dealing cocaine, opium and marijuana. To whome?
They are one of many Sape gangs in Kinshasa, calling themselves 100 Years War. Rivals in other neighborhoods include Endless War, Europe of 12 and 1,000 Years War.
They don't carry guns and rarely brawl, but occasionally they invade one another's turf, dressed to the nines, of course, in what they call a "Defi de Sape," or fashion challenge.
Think "West Side Story" meets "Zoolander." They flash labels, not knives.
"If we see them walking down our street, we run home, change into our best and come back out to prove that we're not nobodies," said Willy Biselele, 28, a leader of the 100 Years War.
it would appear that the women hold more sense:
"To be honest, I don't really like it. I'd rather he spend the money on something else. Not necessarily me, but on his future."
this whole thing brought to mind a statement made by a person I cannot recall that was along the lines that the African (diaspora included) were too pre-occupied with looking good than with hard work. I am not going to say that the stereotype is true but I will say that in terms of nation building and doing for self, we are falling far far far from the mark.