Voges no stranger at this friendly cafe

RELAXED VIBE: Friendly Stranger is one of Mandela Bay Development Agency chief executive Pierre Voges’s favourite spots
RELAXED VIBE: Friendly Stranger is one of Mandela Bay Development Agency chief executive Pierre Voges’s favourite spots

LA FEMME took Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) chief executive Pierre Voges out to lunch at Friendly Stranger in Bridge Street. Normally quite a private man, Voges opened up by sharing some personal anecdotes about why he is so passionate about the city and its people.

Having his wing man, MBDA marketing and communications manager Luvuyo Bangazi, join the relaxed light lunch, the pair shared their vision and future plans for the city, while chuckling about what Voges’s family thinks of his sometimes eccentric habits.

Voges enjoyed a lamb wrap while Bangazi had a beef burger on the uniquely decorated deck of this relaxed, yet trendy coffee shop and restaurant.

I picked the Friendly Stranger because . . . it is a good example of urban renewal: taking a building that has lost its purpose in life and renewing it. I suppose urban renewal is like personal renewal – every so often we must dust off what has lost its purpose and give it new meaning in these ever-changing circumstances.

I love my job at the MBDA because . . . in 2005 the Port Elizabeth CBD was not a pretty place. The city had seen a capital flight and not only buildings were falling apart, but also the area’s social fabric.

The MBDA not only changed places physically, but also from a pride, changing skewed perceptions, heritage and arts point of view. Not that we have been very successful, but a start has been made that will carry itself exponentially if we continue with present programmes.

I’ll know I’ve made it when . . . My daughters are qualified, successful and shacked up wherever in the world with kind, caring, respectful and loving partners.

The person who has taught me the most is … Nelson Mandela. My time in his office taught me two basic things: modesty and tolerance. These two characteristics are scarce in South Africa.

I have a soft spot for . . . Children. All children deserve a chance in life but due to the many administrative bungles made by us as grown-ups, they never do. When I walk the streets of Helenvale where the MBDA does a wide range of work, I want to cry. I think I do cry quietly. I see kids who are not in school, drinking and walking aimlessly. I should have studied . . . Conservation. I’d like to party with . . . My daughters, Lauren and Kate. I do not only love them, I actually like them. I suppose the inverse is also true. They have a strong work ethic, the ability to laugh and to enjoy life. Their mother gave them lots of real class. I suppose the commonness comes from their father.

I’m listening to . . . all kinds of music, with a particular love for rock and jazz. I am a rock music expert.

When I was 16, I wish I knew . . . one should not be too obsessed with yourself, be level-headed and make the right decisions for the right reasons.

Nothing makes me happier than . . . getting things done. A glass of red wine then just tastes so much better. I am a traditionalist, I believe one should work hard and play hard.

My favourite item of clothing is . . . shorts and slops.

I absolutely hate . . . unnecessary opulence, arrogance, status and a lack of respect for life.

I am saving to buy . . . I am a good saver and investor. I do not really save for anything. I just want to enjoy the simple things in life.

I share my life with . . . I am a loner and live alone. My family is in Cape Town. I am very happy with myself. I have the rare ability to roam the Karoo veld not talking to anyone for days. I miss my family in Cape Town though.

I can’t go a day without . . . doing some kind of exercise, a glass of red wine, the ability to laugh, and feeling that I have made a professional difference by getting things done.

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