MOVER & SHAKER | Inimitable Siphiwo Nzawumbi shares about new career in booming Dubai real estate

Media personality Siphiwo Nzawumbi counts packing up his entire life and moving to a foreign country as one of the craziest things he has ever done
SAILING AHEAD: Media personality Siphiwo Nzawumbi counts packing up his entire life and moving to a foreign country as one of the craziest things he has ever done

Well-known media personality Siphiwo Nzawumbi, popularly known as Spitch, left SA for greener pastures and is now head of marketing for a multinational property group. 

1. What can we expect from you in 2024 as far as your career is concerned?

There is so much in the pipeline for me in 2024. Dubai real estate is at its absolute boom and I get to be a part of it all. The previous year was about setting myself up and tightening any loose ends. So far 2024 is off to a good start.

But also on the business front, I will be showing some activity this year. There are also a couple of media projects in the pipeline that I’ve been working on. In no time, we will be all systems go.

2. What book or books are on your bedside table at the moment?

Bruce D Perry and Oprah Winfrey’s What Happened To You is my current read. It’s amazing to me how trauma can be such a big part of our lives and how it can manifest into different patterns and behaviour when undealt with.

3. What is the most cherished or expensive item you own and what would you say it’s worth?

This is a little tricky because I cherish every single possession of mine. I could easily say my watch but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Maybe my cologne, because I’m big on fragrances. But again, I love jewellery. It’s really tough to pick just one.

4. What’s your favourite childhood memory?

Birthdays were a big part of my childhood. We had a video camera at home and taped most of our birthdays and other family ceremonies. Besides that, our family road trip to the coastal KZN or Eastern Cape were my favourite. One of my fondest memories is of my mother teaching me how to use a fork and knife at a burger franchise. I must have been five years old.

Another memory I now cherish is seeing Nelson Mandela [when I was] around the same age, it was the dawn of democracy in SA and Mthatha just happened to have a soccer match between Mthatha Bucks and Morocco Swallows. Mid-match Madiba showed up at the back of a bakkie wearing his legendary smile and waving to the masses. That will always be a special memory to me.

5. If you had to eat only one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Umleqwa no Mngqusho will always be a fave. I am Xhosa through and through, so you don’t mess with my meat.

6. If you weren’t a media personality, what would you be?

Probably a lawyer or a psychologist. Both professions were once options I wanted to pursue back when I was in high school.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a coach/mentor?

In the year 2010, I was a junior in the newsroom. It was tough as I was just starting out my formal career. I called one of my mentors, ready to throw in the towel because finding my feet in Johannesburg and finally doing what I had spent years studying, wasn’t as glamorous as I had imagined.

Upon calling her, she listened to my long whining and later said, ‘Always be careful of making permanent decisions based on temporal situations’. That stuck with me, it taught me to always revise my decisions and to never make irrational decisions. Years later, I still treasure that advice.

8. If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. For a woman who carried our country in such a calamitous time in history, she deserved much more than being glorified after her death. A few years before her death, I once pitched a docu-series that would allow her a platform to tell her own story. Sadly, that never materialised. I still wished to just have a sit down and tell-all with her.

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

Anything sci-fi or time-travelling. I have the wildest imagination and always feel like sci-fi movies or series confirm some of my weirdest and wildest thoughts about life.

10. If you could instantly solve one world problem, what would it be and why?

Economic inequality. I believe the bulk of our problems are from this. The marginalised remain struggling, while the already empowered are governed by greed and deceit. The ruins of capitalism reflect a great deal in our society — from corruption to crime. In a society where the poor majority struggle to put bread on the table while the well-off splurge their excessive wealth day and night, there is bound to be crime and corruption.

11. Who was your biggest influence or inspiration when you started your career?

The late Xolani Gwala played a big role in my television broadcasting career. There was a class he possessed that not everybody had. Deborah Patta in her glory years was also a big journalism inspiration to me. Her determination to expose the rot of society and tell the truth was impeccable. How can I forget the late Eusebius McKaiser, during his time as host of Interface, and now late KCi Mthobeli August in his radio prime.

12. Can you share a funny or memorable moment from your work?

Now that I am in Dubai real estate, I’ve had to learn to quickly keep up to speed with culture this side of town. One I learnt the hard way was when I went to somebody’s home for a viewing and didn’t take off my shoes. They kept giving me the side eye and I couldn’t be bothered because it didn’t register to me that it is common practice to take off your shoes as you enter somebody’s home.

Throughout our viewing, they kept looking at my feet. I eventually asked if they admired my shoes only for them to reply ‘next time take off your shoes, darling. It’s uncultured to bring dirt in somebody’s house’. My jaw dropped immediately. That was both embarrassing and funny.

13. Do you have a secret talent that no-one knows about?

I can actually sing.

14. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Packing my entire life and moving to a foreign country to re-establish myself has to be at the very top of crazy things I’ve ever done.

15. Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Siargao in the Philippines is my current fave. I also had a lovely ski vacation in Georgia recently and wouldn’t mind going again.



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