Bills - Background

Background

Bills were gangs of teenagers that dressed in cowboy outfits and went against the current political view.They wore cowboy hats that were brown and had cowboy boots. From 1957 to 1959, half a dozen movie theaters opened in the "African" neighborhoods in LĂ©opoldville (the city was segregated into African and European areas). The majority of LĂ©opoldville's population was under 20, and most of these youths were educated to only primary level, since the colonial government reserved most of the secondary school places for Europeans. Poor education resulted in large scale unemployment, and, with little else to do, the youths began to make the theaters their meeting points. They were particularly drawn to Western movies, and "Billism" began to incorporate many of the motifs into their lives. The portrayal of Buffalo Bill in the movies was especially appealing partly because of the similarity to hunter heroes of Congolese culture. The character of Buffalo Bill had already appeared in over 20 films by that time, but the most influential movie is thought to be 'Pony Express', where Charlton Heston played Bill.

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