COL­UMN

IN THESE HEADY DAYS OF THE CON­NEC­TION ECON­OMY, IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST LIVE – ONE MUST FIND THE PER­FECT BALANCE OF EF­FORT AND LIV­ING WELL

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Pas­sion­ate South African Aubrey Ng­cungama on la dolce vita

How fan­tas­tic it is to be born into the Zulu cul­ture! We have such fine ex­am­ples of great Zulu char­ac­ters – both an­cient and con­tem­po­rary. I has­ten to add that there are also colour­ful char­ac­ters who hail from well-known com­pounds and high of­fice. Late Au­gust saw the 90th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions of a fa­mous

Zulu prince who’s clearly mas­tered the art of liv­ing. So my her­itage, I be­lieve, is in largely good hands.

You’ll be baf­fled by that ex­traor­di­nar­ily un-aubrey state­ment, but it’s sim­ply to cu­rate cu­rios­ity and con­ver­sa­tion. The real rea­son I’m ven­tur­ing into her­itage and cul­ture is that, in an­other world and life, I’d love to be Ital­ian. Surely the quin­tes­sen­tial Ital­ian has not only mas­tered the art of liv­ing, but is an ex­am­ple of how life should be.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be in­vited to at­tend my best friend’s wed­ding in Tus­cany. What a time! The glo­ri­ous food, the beau­ti­ful peo­ple, the splen­did scenery and colour­ful his­tory were over­whelm­ing. The Tus­can life­style truly epit­o­mises art, food, wine and love com­ing to­gether in per­fect har­mony. The peo­ple are sim­ply liv­ing a beau­ti­fully gen­tle life (though they’re not blind to the chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tury). La dolce vita is a real thing in those parts: sies­tas, sun­shine and good, hon­est work.

In my world of ho­tels, food, mu­sic, peo­ple, diplo­macy and wine, I con­tin­u­ally seek to con­nect peo­ple across these spa­ces and merge pol­i­tics with cul­ture. Bring­ing som­me­liers from plat­forms like the Black Cel­lar Club – which cel­e­brates black ex­cel­lence in the wine world – to­gether with the old world of Euro­pean cap­i­tal. It’s the joy of peo­ple con­nect­ing that makes me wake up with a smile ev­ery day.

South Africans have the same sense of fun and pos­i­tiv­ity as my beloved Ital­ians do. We al­ways find a way. We make do with lit­tle, but do it so well! Open­ing our hearts and dis­cov­er­ing “the other” is what a good Zulu man and a good Ital­ian do best. As we do at Vula Afrika, we open doors and in­vite the very best of the world to be African, even if only for a mo­ment.

We re­ally should try harder to cu­rate a more beau­ti­ful world, even though we find our­selves in this very real world of hard­ship.

“OPEN­ING OUR HEARTS AND DIS­COV­ER­ING ‘THE OTHER’ IS WHAT A GOOD ZULU MAN AND A GOOD ITAL­IAN DO BEST.”

Aubrey Ng­cungama is the Gen­eral Man­ager of Aram­brook Bou­tique Ho­tel, a con­nec­tor and avid pro­moter of South African wines. Among his many pas­sions are mu­sic, food and all things South African. Through nu­mer­ous TV ap­pear­ances, he’s be­come a recog­nis­able fig­ure. He’s also the co­founder of the Black Cel­lar Club and Vula Afrika.

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