2014 Tutu Fellow Mokena Makeka was interviewed on CNN's Inside Africa series in February 2023. In a piece titled Designing the Future: Architects of South Africa, the series looks at how architects are shaping the skylines of Zimbabwe and South Africa and includes buildings as diverse as a sustainable community center to a building inspired by termites.

Recently appointed the President of the South African Institute of Architects, he says that while most lay people know that architects design single, individual buildings, the more important role architects fill is urban design - how spaces are designed for people, and how city design impacts inequality. 

In the interview, Mokena discussed his goals for the future of architecture as well as the significance of his earlier projects.  Mokena started asking questions about architecture at around age 12 when he asked his father why New York City was the way it was in regard to architecture, the urban environment, and equality. Through all his projects, Mokena is concerned about inclusivity and equality. He believes that architecture is a human right - poor suburbs deserve architecture just as much as wealthy areas. Everyone deserves a minimum degree of well-crafted, thoughtful, and humane environments, he said.  For Africa to prosper and grow, inclusive cities need to be part of the process. Because cities are the primary location of development - and carbon emissions - how they are designed are critical to the well-being of their residents.  Mokena wants Africa to grow and prosper. By engaging in how cities are designed, how buildings are occupied, and the materials we use to build them, it should be possible to reduce carbon emissions. 

In the image in this article, he talks about how by using wood to replace much of the concrete that would normally have been used, it expands the possibilities for using more local workers, reduces greenhouse gases, increases skills transfer and produces a number of other benefits.  By so doing, it opens up the construction sector to communities that otherwise would not have the option to participate.

With an honors degree in architecture, Mokena has focused on urban development, natural infrastructure, green livelihoods, smart cities, and spatial and social transformation through design. Aside from being Principal at Dalberg Advisors, and Director of Makeka Design Lab, Mokena has created the School of Explorative Architecture in Cape Town.  The segment with Mokena begins at 18 minutes.

Watch the entire segment at CNN.

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About AFLI




The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) focuses on building the capacity and capability of visionary and strategic leadership across the continent. Developing exceptional leaders representing all spheres of society, the Institute’s flagship programme is the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Offering a multifaceted learning experience and run in partnership with Oxford University, it is awarded annually to 20-25 carefully chosen candidates, nominated from across Africa. Alumni of the African Leadership Institute form a dynamic network of Fellows passionately committed to the continent’s transformation, bridging the divide between nations and ensuring that Africa is set centre-stage in global affairs.