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Sara B. (Italy)

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Gentlemen of Bacongo
Gentlemen of Bacongo
by Daniele Tamagni
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPA SAPA!!!, 30 Jun 2010
This review is from: Gentlemen of Bacongo (Hardcover)
This colourful book takes you to the streets of Bacongo, a district area in Brazzaville where the elegant sapeurs show off their suits with style and a touch of extravagance. They belong to a very important club: The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The society for the advancement of people of elegance) which now has among its adepts also a few women.

This movement started when in the 70's the first Congolese people, who had migrated to Europe, came back to Congo with designer clothes. Many were fascinated with French fashion and started to emulate the French style, reinterpreting it according to their particular taste... The cult of elegance which has emerged from it appears in all his glory in the pages of this photographic book.

The sapeurs parade on the animated catwalks of the streets of Bacongo wearing kilts or pinstripe suits. They pose with unlighted cigars while children stare at them... with little markets and hanging clothes in the background. The contrast between the setting and the clothes of the sapeurs portrayed on this book will impress you for sure. What I loved most is how Davide Tamagni managed to capture this contrast without irony, but providing us a glimpse of the lives of the serious and proud sapeurs of Bacongo... they might appear frivolous like fashion can be, inspiring like art definitely is, funny like caricatures are but certanly worth to be admired in their multi-coloured outfits.

If you are interested in knowing more, I highly recommend also the chapter dedicated to "les sapeurs" on Michela Wrong's "In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz".


China's Longest Campaign: Birth Planning in the People's Republic, 1949-2005
China's Longest Campaign: Birth Planning in the People's Republic, 1949-2005
by Tyrene White
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.32

3.0 out of 5 stars economic production and human reproduction, 20 Oct 2009
Sure it is a good book. Detailed, rich, careful. However it is a chronicle of the history of the birth planning in China and if you are not a specialist and you want to read it just for the sake of it, I am not sure you will find the reading particularly enjoyable. However the first and the last parts are very interesting... the author offers a key to understand what we all probably wonder: why and how such a unpopular policy that privilege collective welfare over personal choices has succeeded?


From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa
From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa
by Gerard Prunier
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.50

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imitima yarakomeretse - the disease of the wounded hearts, 2 Oct 2009
Wow! What a mess! This book is a very detailed account of the (most probably) biggest African conflict; a war fought among foreigners on the Congolese land for often unrelated interests and reasons. Starting with the aftermaths of the Rwandan genocide, Prunier covers the events `till the 2008. Although the situation is extremely intricate (during your reading you can probably get lost in a war bush somewhere in the Congo basin or drown in the river of words of a western diplomat), the author manages to guide a careful reader in the complexity of what he calls the "continental war".

I have learnt so much from this book! The mineral wealth of the Congolese region has been often used as a kind of catch-all explanatory device; well, through this work you are able to see much more about this catastrophe (which hasn't been very "media-sexy").


Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
by Richard Dowden
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ... until one day Achebe's house is open to all, 15 Sep 2009
Richard Dowden, before taking up the post for the Economist, has been for many years the Africa Editor of the Independent. I was very curious to read his work and I have found, first of all, the immense love he feels for the continent! According to me this is important... he can transmit passion to the reader. I believe the author has a profound and intimate understanding of the topics he writes about thanks to the many years he has spent in Africa... some of his points are arguable but for sure give rise to your brain to think.

I would recommend this book as it is updated, easy to read and very positive! After reading it, you will have a very different picture of Africa, compared to what you generally see on the media (often portrayed, sometimes by some aid agencies, as a pitiable place of poverty). It is a message of hope, optimism (but not the blind one!) and richness. Anyway I was expecting more on the "ordinary miracles" stated on the title! However, in general, I really like it... I have found some parts very moving, and loved the chapter on the "positive positive women".


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