Siv Ngesi is as well-traveled as they come.
“In the last five months I’ve been to 23 countries," he says, proudly. "I do a travel show for Mnet called Wingin' It so I travel all over the world. There’s not many who’ve traveled more than me around the world. And I’m black.”
We both laugh.
We're at the opening of Tsogo Sun’s two economy hotels, the SunSquare Cape Town City Bowl and StayEasy Cape Town City Bowl. Ngesi is the MC for the evening. “Cape Town is my city. I am the mayor of this city, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And that’s why I’m here.”
Apart from Cape Town, some of Ngesi has enjoyed visits to places like Japan, New York and Cuba. “Cuba’s a dream. It looks like 1959 was yesterday - vintage cars, incredible people, it will blow your mind."
"The problem with New York and Japan is that it’s cold in December. I’d go to Cuba. Boxing lessons, salsa, it’s a travellers dream.” Ngesi goes back to Cuba in January and he says he just can’t wait.
“The best part of travelling is coming back to Cape Town. The worst part about travelling, is travelling. I love to be in a place and I wish I could just teleport to different places. I love meeting people, I love challenging people, I love discovering new cultures, I love eating new food, I love getting lost, I love it all.”
Ngesi’s love for travel goes back to 1993 when his mother got a scholarship to Bristol University to do her masters.
“She was saving money on the side to make sure that all my bothers, sisters and I could travel to England. I remember as a kid I looked up to the sky and I said, ‘Mom, where’s God? Cause I looked out the window and there was no God. I was 9 years old. And then I got a part in a musical around the world and I traveled around the world."
Despite all his travels, there's no place quite like home, and Ngesi still finds himself enchanted by Cape Town.
“My favourite thing about Cape Town is that it’s like New York. But New York in Africa. You can be in an ocean, and you can be in a mountain and it’s five minutes apart. You can be hiking, you can be swimming. There’s a quality of life here that you can’t get anywhere else. I live in the city center, I don't have to drive far, I don’t have to use money on petrol. I love it, there’s something very special about it.”
As someone still new to the Cape Town experience, I ask him where I can catch a good meal. “My friend, you see over there,” he points across the road. “That’s called Marco's. Umnqusho’s there, sheep head’s there, mala mogodu. African food right there, in the center of Cape Town.”