Deriving their title from vocalist Faty Sy Savanet's childhood nickname, Tshegue (Savanet and Nicolas Dacunha) are stimulated by danger, and are a formidable force on the Afropunk scene.
“Just keep your eyes on the road. Don't look back.” This command trickles into every groove and fracture of “The Wheel”'s gnarly surface. The pounding drum patterns and hypnotic garage beats melt into Savanet's officious lyrical flow to encapsulate the immediate danger playing out on screen, as the rollerblading collective weave chaotically through busy motorways and stampeding traffic.
Filmed in Savanet's hometown, Kinshasa was once a city of fishing and trading - now home to over 11 million inhabitants. Its rapid urban development is captured through director Renaud Barret's monochromatic lens, as members of the Club Etoile Rollers cruise through the concrete megacity. Billboards and cranes career across the frame, showcasing a city in a state of constant flux.
“I’m in a taxi on Lumumba Boulevard, when suddenly I’m in the middle of this gang of kids slaloming between cars,” Renaud explains. “We exchange thumbs up, signs of complicity, rolling side by side for a moment. One of them spots my camera, & comes closer to shout 'Hey sir! Do you wanna shoot something crazy?' I couldn’t refuse.”
“This is the magic of a limitless city where each and every day brings incredible spontaneous possibilities. Intoxicated by danger and only protected by their faith in good luck; I can only see a metaphor for the Congo's situation. But also a middle finger to a society trying to maintain an illusion that everything should be controlled, supervised. These free riders remind us that life must be lived in the present.”