In Goma, Lights May Flicker but Looks Stay Sharp


the look

“One of the first things I noticed is how completely beautiful everyone is on the street,” said Shayla Harris, a documentary filmmaker and journalist, about her recent trip to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Shayla Harris, a filmmaker and journalist, recently traveled to Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, to document energy poverty. She wanted to capture how people, many of whom don’t have reliable electricity or access to water, maintain pride in their appearance.CreditShayla Harris for The New York Times

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the birthplace of SAPE, a loosely organized cult of dandies known as “les sapeurs.” SAPE is an abbreviation of the group’s name, which in English translates as the Society of Ambience and Elegant People. The contrast between the extravagance of their attire and the hardships of their lives has the effect of…



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