In the colonial era when DR Congo was known as Zaire , Kinhasa as Leopoldville, a surprising youth culture emerged. There was racial segregation in the city, and most of the Africans were denied a decent education or any opportunity of improving their lot. In the late 1950’s cinemas became very popular in the African quarter. Youths were inspired by Westerns, Buffalo Bill in particular because of his similarity to hunter heroes of Congolese tradition, and Charlton Heston especially for his portrayal of Bill in Pony Express.
The Bills, as they came to be known, were gangs of youths who adopted Western style dress and gave their patches names with a Western flavour, such as Santa Fe or Texas.
The photographs are by Jean Depara(1928-1997), an Angolan who cronichled many aspects of life in Zaire.