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(Re)introducing Mama Africa
Travel across Africa with your tastebuds + watch live reggae
Last updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2023
From its inception in 1995, Mama Africa became an institution in Cape Town. The Mother City lost an iconic spot when it closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Happily, thanks to new ownership, Mama Africa is the beating heart of Long Street once again. Try food from across the African continent, stay for a late-night drink (it closes at 2am) or join for a djembe drumming or live reggae night.
Mama Africa is a well-known sight on one of Cape Town’s most bustling streets, thanks to its bright murals. Image: Mama Africa
As you walk up to this bright orange building covered in colourful murals, you’ll hear the thumping of drums and lively chatter of locals and tourists.
The decor has undergone a sophisticated upgrade: The colour-changing chandelier made of glass bottles is an eye-catching feature and there’s a classy VIP lounge. The lighting is dim and there’s often live music, making this a vibrant dinner spot or somewhere to end off your night over drinks.
Meanwhile, the exposed brick walls and wooden roof is a shout to the simpler Mama Africa of the past.
The VIP Lounge is a snazzy new addition and a great Instagrammable spot. Image: Mama Africa
TRAVEL WITH YOUR TASTEBUDS
Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe… at Mama Africa, you can enjoy a gastrophic journey across the African continent.
Guests are encouraged to eat with their hands, so be prepared to get messy (in the best way). The deep-fried plantain is a winner. Perfectly salted, this West African fruit has a similar flavour to a potato chip (but is higher in fibre and more filling).
There’s something for both meat lovers and vegans, from smoky goat skewers to chikanda and pap and spinach. Image: Mama Africa
Meat lovers can enjoy skewered goat layered between peppers. This has a deep smoky flavour, like braai meat. For those curious enough to try it, crocodile meat is tender, fatty and succulent – especially when cooked in a peanut stew with veggies.
Another stand-out dish is the chikanda, also known as “African polony.” This vegan Zambian dish is made from peanuts and the boiled root tubers of orchids. Unlike the rubbery texture of many Western meat alternatives, chikanda is moist and tasty.
While you eat your meal, listen to live music perfromed by artists from all over Africa. Image: Mama Africa
DANCE TO LIVE REGGAE
Brenda Fassie, Fela Kuti and Koffi Olomidé are just some of the legends that adorn the walls of Mama Africa. Music is a pillar of this spot and there are weekly events, like djembe drumming on Thursdays and live reggae nights. Find out more on Mama Africa’s Instagram.
The stage, tucked into a corner of the restaurant, emits vibrant sounds and some guests get up from their tables to dance. Image: Mama Africa
VISIT THIS LONG STREET ICON:
Mama Africa is open: Daily, 12pm - 2am
Find it: 178 Long Street (Corner of Pepper St & Long St) | Cape Town (Opposite Pedros and to the right of Sgt Pepper)
Contact them on: Instagram
By Julia Rowley
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