Interview with architect Mokena Makeka The MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

My Perspective on Cape Town

Hey there! I wanted to share my thoughts on Cape Town, the beautiful city where I live and work as an architect. Let’s dive in!

I grew up in a small farming community called Mathathiele, near Lesotho. When my father, who was Lesotho’s ambassador to the UN, got a new posting in New York, we moved to the United States. I had the chance to grow up in both New York and Washington DC before returning to Maseru, where I finished high school.

Living in Cape Town is a dream come true. There are so many things to love, from the breathtaking sunsets to the delicious food and the fascinating people buzzing with creative ideas. It’s incredible how simple it is to find nutritious meals and to immerse myself in the beauty of the mountains, sky, and sea. Cape Town is renowned for its world-class film industry and is home to incredibly talented designers. It’s like I have the whole world at my fingertips, just a phone call away.

Whenever visitors come to Cape Town, there’s a whole list of incredible experiences that I love showing them. We start off with a visit to the lively pubs along Long Street and then take a drive to Hout Bay, passing Devil’s Peak along the way. For those who appreciate a good whiskey and top-notch service, we head to Bascule Bar. And for some outdoor relaxation, Green Point Urban Park is the perfect spot. Of course, we can’t miss taking a cable-car ride to the summit of Table Mountain, and a tour of Robben Island is a must-do as well. In the charming town of Franschhoek, there’s delicious food and beautiful scenery to enjoy. For a spectacular dining experience, I always recommend Pepenero Restaurant in Mouille Point. And if you’re in the mood for some vibrant nightlife, Club 31 and Bukhara on Church Street are great choices. Lastly, a visit to Khayelitsha provides a valuable reality check and a chance to learn about the local culture. This city has it all, and these are just some of the highlights.

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I don’t have a favorite building in Cape Town, but I think the BP Centre on Thibault Square is the most elegant tower in the city center. Another noteworthy building is the Convention Centre, which has a modern design and is filled with natural light. As for beautiful and cozy public spaces, I highly recommend Green Point Urban Park, Sea Point Promenade, and St. George’s Mall. You should also check out Heritage Square – it’s a small but lively area that adds a vibrant atmosphere to Bree Street.

The most enjoyable meal I’ve had at a restaurant recently was the sirloin and chips at HQ. It’s a classic dish cooked to perfection. I suggest ordering it medium rare for the best experience.

When it comes to restaurants, I have a few favorites that I can’t resist sharing with you:
La Perla is one of them, and they make the most incredible lamb chops. I can’t recommend them enough!
Bukhara is another spot I love, and they serve the tastiest lamb chops and tandoori chicken. It’s a must-try.
If you’re a fan of sushi, Mynt Café is the place to be. They have delicious salmon roses that you won’t be able to get enough of.
For a mouthwatering burger, I highly recommend Hudson’s Burger Joint in Green Point. They never disappoint.
When it comes to pizza, Col’Cacchio in the CBD is my go-to. You won’t find better pizzas anywhere else.
Doppio Zero is the spot for a fantastic caesar chicken wrap. Yes, you might have to wait, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.
Pepenero is a great restaurant for both seafood lovers and cocktail enthusiasts. Their fillet and scallops are out of this world, and they make the tastiest caipirinhas.
If you’re in the mood for a classic Caesar salad, look no further than Sinatra’s at The Pepper Club. It’s the perfect spot.
When it comes to langoustines, Paranga and Panama Jacks are both fantastic options. You can’t go wrong with either of them.
Reuben’s at One&Only is another one of my favorites. They serve incredible food that you won’t forget.
Lastly, Kitima at the Kronendal is a hidden gem. Everything they serve is amazing, but I highly recommend trying their Tom Yum soup with prawns and their Angry Beef stir-fry. You won’t be disappointed!

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But when it comes to events in Cape Town, I don’t have any set habits. I’m not a fan of routines, except when it comes to eating and sleeping. Those are the only two things I can’t live without.

Yo, let me tell you about my absolute favorite weekend getaway. It’s like stepping into a whole new world, man.

I’ve got this epic bucket list of things I still want to do in the Cape. I’m talking about paragliding, bungee-jumping, taking a wild helicopter ride, and hosting a badass spit braai on the Heerengracht and Green Point Urban Park.

When it comes to finding the best coffee in town, I know exactly where to go. De Waterkant is where it’s at, my friend.

If you’re looking for the ultimate jogging spot in the city, look no further than the promenade. Fun fact: I actually live just 10 minutes away in Green Point.

Now, when it comes to a special occasion, let me tell you about my go-to drinks. I’m all about a double shot of Jack Daniels with a hint of lime. Or maybe a caipirinha with some fresh lime and cachaça – muddled, never stirred. Oh, and don’t forget about the Harvey Wallbanger – fresh orange juice mixed with a triple shot of vodka, a shot of rum, and a sprig of mint. Trust me, I’m man enough to enjoy a pink drink.

Right now, my life is filled with activity. I’m focused on living fully, pursuing love, and expressing myself through art. I’m also learning the importance of setting boundaries, keeping my curiosity alive, and having the endurance to see things through. It’s a balancing act, but I’m finding joy in every step of the journey.

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In my experience, good architects possess several key qualities. They know when to say no, allowing them to prioritize and focus on what truly matters. They approach their work with curiosity, always seeking new knowledge and pushing the boundaries of their craft. And they have the stamina to persevere through challenges, never giving up on their vision.

The Banting diet has been a part of African culture for centuries. We have always embraced a diet that is rich in protein and healthy fats, while minimizing processed and refined carbohydrates. Our meals often feature meat, sometimes enjoyed raw. It’s no surprise that the rise of obesity in South Africa is linked to the adoption of Western eating habits. Going back to basics and reconnecting with traditional food practices just makes sense.

Sundays are a special day for me. It’s a time to focus on self-care and connection. I start my day by going to the gym, taking care of my physical health. Then, I use the rest of the day to plan for the week ahead, catch up on the news, reach out to family members, and spend quality time with my children. It’s a day of rest and rejuvenation, setting the tone for a positive week.

Buildings that endure through time often arise from clients who let go of their personal preferences and trust the architects.

Money comes and goes. It’s nice to have, but not to the point of boredom. It’s meant to be enjoyed, not hoarded.

Right after this, I’m gonna look for an apartment, catch up with old pals, and hit the gym.

When I wake up at night, I often wonder if I’m still dreaming and why I’m here. Who’s next to me? Oh, it’s just the pillows…

One day, I’ll dance with my beloved during a summer sunset, wishing time would freeze, while hidden angels admire our happiness.

Makeka Design Lab was founded by Mokena.

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