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The budding restaurateur is convinced that nothing beats food as medium of cultural exchange

THATO CHUMA

In an effort to bring a refresh-ing dining offering that serves affordable Tswana-inspired meals, Maun Pop-Up Experiences has launched a mobile restaurant that serves traditional and gourmet dishes, as well as a concept store that hosts local brands.

With its outdoor décor and refreshing ambiance, the restaurant shares Botswana’s traditional cuisine and lifestyle as locals inter-acting with international tourists.Overlooking the Thamalakane River and the lush greenery of Okavango, the concept was inspired by owner Tebatso Kgakge’s keen enthusiasm for a different expedition as a means of sharing the country’s culture. “I was inspired by the kind of places I love to go to – serene and not too crowded,” she explains. “While running my Airbnb after moving from Gaborone following my grandmother’s passing, I wanted to offer something more.

“It began with cooking fat cakes and tripe to add to what the Airbnb was doing. I realised that people love the cultural exchange that was taking place and so I widened the menu options. I basically wanted to share elements of my culture through food and that best describes what we do.”

Maun Pop-Up Experiences offers cuisine that includes gourmet burgers, boerewors rolls, mimosa break-fast, brunches, salads, coffee combos and vegetarian dishes. “We serve fast food paired with good music and great lived experiences that people share with each other,” Kgakge enthuses. “For us, as much as it is still a small restaurant that is finding its feet, that is what gives us our unique edge.”

So far she has taught visitors from countries such as Ghana, Australia, Germany and India how to cook Botswana foods. “We have taught quite a number of international tourists how to cook dishes like motogo,” she notes. “The storyteller in me views food and culture as inter-connected. The journey has been interesting and I am learning every day. I have never owned a restaurant before and this is a new space for me. But meeting new people and experiencing an assortment of cultures is great.”

With the disruption of COVID-19 and the subsequent slack in the flow of tourists, ever creative, Kgakge started a trailer eatery in a backyard within a safe place where people can enjoy conversations and food. “We have been affected by COVID-19 just like everyone else but I cannot say we are struggling,” she says. “The size of the restaurant has benefited us and we are now able to grow gradually.”

Kgakge says there is so much interest in her conceptual restaurant that some people are looking to collaborate and even host their events at her spot. “The response and feedback have been fantastic and we are already finding ourselves in talks of collaboration with other local brands and businesses,” she explains. “I hope it will be fruitful for everyone as we help each other through these challenging times.“

I would like to see Maun Pop-Up Experiences at a bigger space with a similar river view. At its core, I would love to maintain the safe space that we have curated with this concept and establish ambiances that have people learning something new while enjoying great food.”Maun Pop-Up Experiences is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 6pm.

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