A Local Guide to Cape Town. Sabelo Maku, Tour Guide, Cape Town, South Africa. Local Knowledge: Sabelo from Cape Town. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

A Local Guide to Cape Town

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Sabelo Maku is a man with a big smile and a heart equally as large. He’s a guy with the kind of warmth, generosity of spirit and openness that you want in a tour guide. He’s the kind of person who epitomises the African concept of Ubuntu, that Faldela was talking about, of being open and available, and sharing.

We met Sabelo, a guide working for local sustainable tour company, Andulela, when we did a Cape Malay cooking class in Bo-Kaap. We liked the way he was so engaged, getting in there and getting his hands dirty. The guy also has impressive kneading skills!

Born in Qhaga, a small rural village on the Easter Cape, 36 year-old Sabelo is married with three kids, a 5 year-old son and two daughters aged four and three. He’s a busy guy, working full-time and studying to complete a tourism management degree, but as he told us when we met him at Bo-Kaap Museum, “We need to work hard. As Nelson Mandela, who is our inspiration, said, we must strive for what we want.”

“People were destroyed by apartheid. They had no self-esteem. But as Obama said, “Yes, we can!” We can do this!” Mandela made us realise that, that our strength is our people,” Sabelo explains. “We can improve our lives if we want. Mandela gave us that confidence.”

A Local Guide to Cape Town – an interview with Sabelo Maku

Q. What do you most love about your work as a guide?

A. I love meeting different people and learning more about their cultures and sharing my culture and experiences.

Q. Why should people come to Cape Town?

A. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has the most hospitable people, whilst it is also very rich in its diversity.

Q. 3 words to describe Cape Town?

A. Cosmopolitan, beautiful and relaxed.

Q. 3 words to describe the people?

A. Vibey, warm and friendly.

Your top tips for visitors?

A. Eat at a local tshisa nyama (braai or barbecue place) in a township – you’ll learn more about township life in several hours than you would in a week’s visit or listening to tourist guides. Try to visit a local person’s home for a lekker braai (nice barbecue) to learn about one of the most important of our many South African traditions. Visit Bo Kaap to learn about the people whose roots lie in South East Asia, see this beautiful and colourful area, and learn about the famous cuisine.

Q. Best souvenir from Cape Town?

A. An oil tin guitar – it’s a unique instrument that demonstrates the tenacity and resilience of the local black folks, despite all that stood in front of them. This is a symbol of character.

Q. Must-do eating experiences?

A. A Cape Malay Cooking Safari with Andulela of course! It gives you a chance to use this universal theme of food to interact and exchange with locals in their homes. Lunch at Mzoli’s, a barbecue place in a township where you can hang out with a difference, learn about local African cuisine, and join a big party at the same time. A meal at Marco’s Place, which specialises in African food, but is not restricted to it. It’s also a very nice place to relax for some very good jazz and other entertainment.

Q. An essential thing to know before coming to Cape Town?

A. There are 11 official languages in South Africa and three in the Western Cape and Cape Town: English, Afrikaans (a creolised language, similar to Dutch) and Xhosa (the language of one of the indigenous people of South Africa). Nelson Mandela is a Xhosa. It’s always warming for the locals to be greeted in their mother tongue.

Q. Most important phrase to learn in one of those languages?

A. Molo, which is hello in Xhosa, and Goeie dag, hello in Afrikkans.

Q. Any other advice?

A. Be street smart and don’t be too flashy, otherwise you stand out. And try not to stay in hotels, but at people’s homes, where you can learn from them about their way of life.


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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

4 thoughts on “A Local Guide to Cape Town”

  1. Checking in with you guys every now’n then is my little thing, I get to catch up with where your at, what’s happening and I love this interview, sounds as if BBQing is the business in SA (which I’d heard about lots before), have you had some of their amazing seafood?
    Have a great week guys :)

  2. Hi Anna, we did try seafood but it was pretty expensive at most places. The boerewors sausages and the curries were the best. Loved their versions of Shiraz too!

  3. Great post, brings back so many memories of gorgeous Cape Town.
    @Anna: BBQing is definitely big in SA, you’re not South African if you can’t Braai/BBQ ;)

    I have to add a few more places to the must-do eating experiences. The places mentioned are great but you haven’t experienced Cape Town if you haven’t visited the wine farms and central Cape Town offers some of the most exquisite dining experiences. Visit Cape To Cuba and Octopus Garden in Kalk Bay, Ginja in Kloof, Caveau in Newlands, the list goes on. There’s absolutely something for everyone.

  4. Hi Samantha

    Thanks for the tips – I’m sure our readers will love them!

    Our Local Knowledge Q & As with locals is really about getting their personal, local tips to experiencing Cape Town – the things that they do and like to do – and we ask for 3 eating experiences only.

    Terence and I got to around 15 or so restos during our 2 weeks in Cape Town, but we stuck close to our ‘hood and the city centre (the furthest we got out of the centre was Wild Woods at Hout Bay) because Grantourismo is all about focusing on a small area and digging deeper rather than run all over the place. We’ll be sure to check these out next trip though.

    A post on the Winelands is coming up! :)

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