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
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.