Suits

A “flaneur” or boulevardier, was someone who wandered the streets of Paris, dressed in their most fashionable outfits, taking in the atmosphere of La Belle Epoque and being cool. The tradition lives on in Congo, where typically older men wear sharp suits, shirts and ties, when visiting the bars in the evening. Maybe it is the French cultural tradition of dressing fashionably which lives on in their former colonies.

Cool, despite malaria
Cool, despite malaria

In Zambia, however, they are much less flamboyant. Dark suits are worn by pastors and preachers, often accessorised with their well-fingered Bibles. Older men sometimes come to the clinic wearing ancient sports jackets, almost as old as they are, often ragged round the edges, and patched up. For younger men, safari chic is popular.

But this little boy reminded me of David Byrne, the singer from “Talking Heads”, with his big suit worn when performing songs from the album “Stop Making Sense” (I can see I have lost quite a lot of my audience now). Even though he was poorly, he had insisted on wearing his newly acquired suit, probably handed down from an older brother, or bought second hand at a clothing stall. He is waiting here for a blood test at the health centre.

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I’ve been a doctor for 37 years, but still my heart melts sometimes.

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