Tuesday, September 7

Papa Wemba and the Safeurs

Just yesterday I was doing a spot of catch up on TV bits and pieces I had videoed but had yet to check out, and spent an entertaining hour watching a documentary about La SAFE, or the Safeurs - a group of Congolese exiles living mainly in either Brussels or Paris.

The Safeurs take their name from the French slang for clobber, or gear, and their thing is exactly that: dressing up in fuck-off expensive clothes. They may well live in a room in a hostel, but they hustle the streets and, when they've accrued enough money, spend it mostly on designer threads. How expensive are we talking? €5000 for a jacket. More than once in the documentary the cry went up within a group of them: "Cavalli! Roberto Cavalli!" (A top Italian designer, in case you were wondering. And while I'm here I can't resist sneaking in that these guys are the guys buying the animalistic coloured fabrics that keep the likes of Donatella Versace furred in cocaine.)

These Safeurs had self-aggrandizing street monickers such as the "Archbishop", and the "Anti-gigolo", but there was no doubt as to who they all bowed down to: Papa Wemba.

He really is their Papa, combining the roles of entrepreneur cum mentor cum emperor. As the actual founder of La SAFE, he has encouraged (by his actions and songs) scores of young Congolese to flee their war-torn homeland, and their first destination is usually that of the colonial patriarch, Belgium. And thence, we can suppose, to the French-speaking world's matriarch: Paris.

Papa serves as their spiritual father too, having found the Lord in a big way. At times he is seen, in the role of adviser, to question - and denounce - the desire for wordly goods: but this is approached abstractly; there is no reflection on the Safeur's borderline absurd pursuit of luxury items. And, of course, in walking the walk and talking the talk the Safeurs in Brussels and Paris have issues with one another ... on top of the sadly predictable problems.

A touching moment in the documentary is when a young Congolese reflects that Europe is perhaps not the Holy Grail that Papa has painted it to be. And a telling point made by another is that job opportunities are so limited - basically levelling out at washing dishes - that in order to get any decent amount of money he has had to become a street hustler. This hustling remains undefined, and though it can be said that the chosen look of the safeur is at times a cartoon of your stereotypical pimp, that doesn't mean that's what they all do.

(I remember seeing a French cinema verite movie of the 90s called Pigalle - and if that was even half-accurate in its presumptions then the Parisian pimp racket is, unsurprisingly, not one you casually strut your way into.)

The scandal involving illegal immigration via Papa's band was ongoing at the time the programme was made; and this news of a fresh trial is not unexpected. Do I think he's guilty? Yes.

Though his own home was a modest one in the suburbs of Paris, Papa's own clothing needs - and the usual unusual entourage expenses - clearly necessitates a large flow of cash. And as much as he rattles out his records (he was filmed recording what I think was his 55th album, some of which reflected a recent spell in prison resulting from these self-same charges) you can't help but feel that he's a guy who can't turn down the chance to make a buck.

One amusing segment of the documentary was the process of tributes - whereby for a certain, though unfixed amount of money Papa would mention you in a song.* Within the Safeurs, this was clearly akin to a papal blessing. And if the money isn't right, you can forget it, as the "Archbishop" discovered.

If all this sounds like I'm bashing Papa on the head, then I apologise. For one thing, I'm definitely going to check out some of his music. And, though he's had his downs, and I guess he's requested to do this, do that and deal with several kinds of shit every waking minute of his day, like another larger-than-life African superstar Fela Kuti he's had a pretty good crack at life, hasn't he?

* And let's not forget that such stuff is part of the lingua franca of the music business. For instance, the reason why Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On has such a muddy sound is that in return for sexual favours he kept inviting girls to contribute backing vocals, which were then wiped the next day ... clearing the way for that night's shenanigans.

ADDENDUM: nosing around as I do I came upon Resonance FM (see BOAT DRINKS list for link) which has a show dedicated to the music of the Congo on each Saturday at 1330 GMT. So I'll be checking that out pronto. Furthermore, that site has a link within it to lots of stuff about Papa Wemba and La SAPE. Enjoy.


posted by DD @ 09:42 


Blogger oakleyses said...

nike free, louis vuitton handbags, tiffany and co jewelry, jordan shoes, christian louboutin, ray ban outlet, coach outlet store online, tory burch outlet online, true religion, louis vuitton outlet, nike outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet, prada outlet, christian louboutin outlet, burberry outlet online, nike air max, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, kate spade outlet online, oakley sunglasses, oakley vault, chanel handbags, coach outlet, red bottom shoes, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet online, michael kors outlet online, coach purses, coach outlet, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, tiffany jewelry, polo ralph lauren, nike air max, longchamp handbags, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors handbags, gucci handbags, burberry outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet store, polo ralph lauren outlet, longchamp outlet online, kate spade outlet

4 December 2014 at 06:12  
Blogger oakleyses said...

air jordan, nike roshe run, north face, nike roshe, guess pas cher, longchamp pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, nike free, burberry pas cher, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors canada, louis vuitton, lacoste pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, tn pas cher, nike air max, nike air force, ray ban pas cher, hollister, scarpe hogan, michael kors uk, lululemon, air max, mulberry, ralph lauren, vans pas cher, nike free pas cher, north face pas cher, timberland, true religion outlet, hollister, converse pas cher, louis vuitton uk, new balance pas cher, sac michael kors, longchamp, chaussure louboutin, air max pas cher, ray ban uk, sac louis vuitton, nike blazer pas cher, barbour, true religion jeans, louis vuitton pas cher, hermes pas cher

4 December 2014 at 06:20  
Blogger oakleyses said...

ghd, valentino shoes, birkin bag, ugg soldes, nike huarache, reebok shoes, uggs outlet, north face jackets, lululemon outlet, celine handbags, canada goose outlet, ugg outlet, beats headphones, new balance outlet, ugg boots, nfl jerseys, longchamp, ferragamo shoes, uggs on sale, uggs outlet, jimmy choo shoes, ugg boots, herve leger, vans outlet, ugg, p90x workout, insanity workout, chi flat iron, canada goose outlet, mont blanc pens, nike trainers, nike roshe, replica watches, abercrombie and fitch, canada goose outlet, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, hollister, soccer shoes, wedding dresses, soccer jerseys, north face jackets, marc jacobs outlet, canada goose, bottega veneta, asics shoes, mac cosmetics, instyler ionic styler, babyliss

4 December 2014 at 06:30  
Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, hollister canada, baseball bats, montre femme, canada goose, supra shoes, moncler outlet, vans, hollister clothing, pandora jewelry, wedding dress, coach outlet, ray ban, pandora uk, canada goose, iphone 6 case, uggs canada, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton canada, hollister, gucci, timberland shoes, ralph lauren, thomas sabo uk, moncler, swarovski uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, links of london uk, parajumpers outlet, converse, moncler outlet, converse shoes, lancel, replica watches, oakley, pandora charms, louboutin, toms outlet, karen millen, moncler, ugg, nike air max, moncler, moncler, air max, swarovski jewelry, canada goose pas cher

4 December 2014 at 06:38  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ninest123 16.03
oakley sunglasses, nike air max, ugg boots, louboutin shoes, gucci outlet, oakley sunglasses, coach purses, louboutin, louis vuitton, coach outlet, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, prada handbags, replica watches, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, true religion jeans, tiffany jewelry, kate spade outlet, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co, true religion jeans, kate spade handbags, longchamp outlet, nike free, coach outlet, chanel handbags, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp, replica watches, uggs on sale, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton, nike air max, louboutin outlet, true religion outlet, ugg boots, ray ban sunglasses, true religion jeans, nike outlet, replica handbags, tory burch outlet, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet

31 March 2016 at 06:22  
Blogger ninest123 said...

sac longchamp, air force, michael kors, michael kors, nike air max, burberry, michael kors outlet, ray ban pas cher, michael kors outlet, michael kors, vanessa bruno, ugg boots, converse pas cher, nike air max, sac guess, michael kors outlet, nike blazer, hollister, new balance pas cher, nike free, louboutin pas cher, michael kors outlet, mulberry, hollister pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, burberry outlet online, nike roshe, timberland, ralph lauren uk, north face, michael kors, vans pas cher, ray ban uk, michael kors outlet, air max, tn pas cher, ugg boots, air jordan pas cher, longchamp pas cher, burberry, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, north face, lacoste pas cher, nike roshe run, michael kors, hogan, nike free run uk, hermes, lululemon, oakley pas cher

31 March 2016 at 06:24  
Blogger ninest123 said...

instyler, insanity workout, reebok shoes, nfl jerseys, lululemon, north face outlet, timberland boots, ipad cases, babyliss, mont blanc, iphone 6s plus cases, valentino shoes, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, nike huarache, nike air max, new balance, iphone cases, chi flat iron, wedding dresses, soccer jerseys, iphone 6s cases, celine handbags, ghd, louboutin, asics running shoes, soccer shoes, north face outlet, iphone 6 plus cases, ralph lauren, herve leger, iphone 6 cases, longchamp, hollister, hollister, nike roshe, oakley, mcm handbags, mac cosmetics, ferragamo shoes, birkin bag, iphone 5s cases, abercrombie and fitch, baseball bats, vans shoes, beats by dre, jimmy choo shoes, bottega veneta, p90x workout, hollister, s5 cases, nike air max

31 March 2016 at 06:27  
Blogger ninest123 said...

canada goose, moncler, links of london, pandora charms, karen millen, louis vuitton, canada goose, pandora jewelry, coach outlet, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg boots uk, swarovski crystal, swarovski, juicy couture outlet, barbour, converse, gucci, moncler, louis vuitton, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, converse outlet, montre pas cher, bottes ugg, pandora charms, supra shoes, wedding dresses, thomas sabo, doudoune canada goose, ray ban, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, replica watches, marc jacobs, moncler outlet, vans, louis vuitton, canada goose, moncler, hollister, barbour jackets, moncler, canada goose uk, moncler, sac louis vuitton pas cher, canada goose outlet, lancel, toms shoes, moncler, pandora jewelry
ninest123 16.03

31 March 2016 at 06:29  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

coach outlet store online
louis vuitton handbags
christian louboutin sale
jordan retro 13
air jordan shoes
christian louboutin outlet
burberry handbags
louis vuitton outlet
jordan retro 11
ralph lauren
kd 7 shoes
michael kors outlet clearance
coach outlet
toms outlet
ray bans
louis vuitton bags
polo ralph lauren
giuseppe zanotti outlet
supra for sale
nike store
louis vuitton outlet
jordan 3 powder blue
michael kors outlet
gucci bags
nike air max uk
toms outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
louis vuitton outlet
vans sneakers
michael kors outlet
polo ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton bags
designer handbags
coach outlet store online
nike running shoes for men
celine bags
louis vuitton purses
ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet
michael kors handbags

23 June 2016 at 09:27  

Post a Comment

<< Home