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Friendzone: Mampala Malekane

I just came up with the name for the series I am writing on my friends: Friendzone. I think it is catchy and cheesy enough and works either way you look at it.

Which brings me to my next friend: Mampala. If you have met me during my time in Cape Town you have probably seen me with her plenty of times. During our time in this city (we arrived a few months after each other) we have lived together, partied together, got involved in a car accident together, decided to become vegetarians together (we failed) and did I mention drink together? ok.

The funny thing about how we became friends is that my older sister introduced me to her. They worked together in Sandton and she was always telling me and this girl who she thought would make a great friend. She was right.

As a way of mocking my sister (who calls me baby) we started calling each other "baby" too... and it has stuck and has also led to people assuming we are a lesbian couple, which we don't mind at all and always play along depending on how bored we are.

Anyway the reason why I am friends with Mampala is that she listens. Like really listens to all my bullshit (I say a lot of bullshit especially on the subject of men). But she doesn't just listen, she actually remembers all the stuff I say when we are sober.

She is also very sweet, extremely kind and fragile. There is a warmth about Mampala that I love and appreciate. She is one of those people who is confident enough to make everyone else feel comfortable around her. This is a welcome relief from being friends with girls who are always threatened by other girls and in turn, become bitchy for no reason.

She is always up for a good time and just going wild and having fun.

Like the time we went to the beach with two of our friends and decided to walk from the beach to the shops in our swimwear - no towels, sarongs or anything.

Or the time when we were so bored at my house that we went out with these guys, got kicked out of Asoka (there were too many Black people in our group apparently, according to the Black/Coloured doorman) and we ended up at Cubana, which was also boring and had a car accident on our way home when a car slammed into us 5 minutes from my flat.

But Mampala is also brave in that she is willing to take risks (like moving to Cape Town and befriending people like me) and when she feels uncomfortable in a situation (like a job she hates) she always leaves. a lot of us stay but she never does, which is what I admire most.

She is also amazingly stylish. She helps me pick out clothes and dress up. But mostly  she has fun with her hair, from weaves in different colours and length to braids to short hair. She just goes for it and somehow she always manages to pull it off.


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First published on

Neo Maditla is Editor in Chief of Design Indaba online, South Africa's leading design and creativity platform. features some of the best talent on the African continent and from around the globe. Not only is Neo passionate about African art, but she's also a seasoned writer with experience in print, TV and online. We just had to have her on the Rise Art Prize panel for Africa and the Middle East.

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I love the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. It has a massive collection and I always go there, alone or with friends, and I just spend hours on end looking through the work. It's located in massive public park where one can go for a picnic, visit the restaurant or even take a stroll down Government Avenue so see the monument commissioned by Design Indaba in honour of Archbishop Tutu called Arch for Arch.
Cape Town's Iziko South African National Gallery.
2. What’s your favourite …