It’s called banga, and it’s an Angolan expression used to define what’s called “swagger” Stateside. First rule: the less discrete, the better. In a newly released one-and-a-half-hour documentary titled Bangaologia – The Science of Style, Angolan filmmaker and award-winning creative Coréon Dú, takes a closer look at his fellow countrymen’s obsession with looking good.
Coréon Dú, stage name of José Eduardo Paulino dos Santos, is known across Angola as a successful musician, Emmy-nominated TV producer and model agent. The 32-year-old multitasker spent the last 6 years working on the documentary, which has already been nominated for an award at this year’s London Fashion Film Festival. “Angolans are very conscious of their image. The general attitude is, you cannot control everything in your life, but you can control how you look. A bangão is comfortable in showing their banga to the full extent. It’s about being unapologetic in your personal style and sharing that with the world. Everyone is born with banga, but it’s a choice whether you want to express it or not,” the maker of the independent documentary film tells me.
Bangaologia features interviews with household names from Angola’s fashion circle, local intellects, as well as PAPER magazine editorial director Mickey Boardman. They each share their individual interpretation of the Angolan buzzword and how it has influenced the fashion landscape on an international level.
“Being from one of the few Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, we (Angolans) can’t always verbally communicate with the rest of the world, so we do it visually. Over the past 5/6 years, I’ve noticed a growing interest in Africa coming from the fashion industry, visual arts scene, as well as the world of architecture and design. The main difference in the West’s interest in Africa today, compared to yesterday, is that professionals no longer come here to research and subsequently use our craft. There’s more interest nowadays in the African point of view, and working with local African talent,” the creative mentions.
Speaking of said visual communication synonymous with Angola, Bangaologia follows tribal examples of this, as well as more contemporary ones. Part of the latter category is a young dandy featured in the documentary. He is seen strutting around an Angolan suburb dressed in a bright pink suit paired with embellished silver slip-ons, shaking the hands of fellow inhabitants of his community. Inhabitants who each want to show their respect to the sharply-dressed young man, locally known as Papá Swegue. The story of African men walking around their suburbs in sharp, colourful suits, may remind some of Congo-based collective Les Sapeurs. The French-speaking collective generated worldwide media attention 5 years ago, due to their bold fashion choices. Coréon underlines however, that though there are similarities between his Congolese neighbours and Angola’s style influencers – there is a key difference.
“The Sapeurs have banga, and the way they dress is an expression of that. They’re an urban tribe of people who dress in a specific way. They’re bangãos ‘cause they are unapologetic. But it’s more visual. Banga is about what’s inside, it’s an attitude, and there are no set rules in terms of dress code. Banga is ‘je ne sais quoi’. It’s about the way you talk and carry yourself. It’s not just about the way you dress.’’