Laid-back place where crime is not a concern
A SOWETAN TRAVEL & LEISURE FEATURE: Jazz icon Ray Phiri has graced many world stages with his music for more than 42 years. When not busy travelling the world, the 60-year-old musician is at home with his wife and kids in his hometown of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
What is your hometown and where are you situated?
I was born in Mpumalanga, a few kilometres from Nelspruit, which is now known as Mbombela.
I grew up there. My house is also in Mpumalanga.
What is the town known for?
Mbombela is a laid-back place where you can raise your children without having to worry about crime from the city.
It provides a healthy environment away from the effects of air pollution.
The town is also a short drive from Swaziland and Mozambique.
So you can practically have breakfast in Swaziland and lunch in Mozambique on the same day.
What are the unique traits of the people in your hometown?
People here are known to love hosting people; they are very welcoming and homey.
Where can you get the best traditional food in Mbombela?
The Plaza 10 building has a place where they sell mogodu, (tripe) amancina (trotters), samp and other African cuisine.
On the road to Barryton, there is this restaurant under a tree which sells umlecho, which is fresh chicken cooked in water, salt and onions. I go there occasionally.
What is your favourite hotel in your hometown?
There's the Rose Crown Guesthouse and the Ubuntu Kraal for the amazing scenery of Mpumalanga. Blue Mountains Lodge is my ultimate favourite for a getaway with my family; it is very upmarket and not much of a tourism attractor. I love the hotel for the fresh air because it is far from all other places and the food is great too.
Where can you get the best man caves?
I am not really a fan of man caves. I like to go to places where my wife will know where I am and never have to worry about what I'm doing. So small gatherings with close friends, who are mostly married, in which we empower each other is my kind of gathering.
Where can you get the best barber?
I usually cut my hair at Kanyamazane township at a place classified as eFour. The places are divided by bus stops from one to six, I think.
Where do you usually do your shopping?
For food I would go to The Groove Shopping Centre and buy at either Woolworths or Spar.
They have fresh produce and I am into organic food, which they have.
What is the best place for an outdoor family event?
The Lowveld Botanical Gardens for its neat lawns and indigenous plants. The place offers a place where you can teach children about the environment and its indigenous vegetation.
And your favourite restaurant for a quiet meal?
Depending on the occasion, there is the Orange Restaurant and the Blue Mountains Lodge for their beautiful pancakes.
Where are the best jazz sessions held in your hometown?
I would be lying if I said that I have been to any lately. There is the Mbombela Jazz Club but I have been travelling a lot and haven't been there for quite some time.
The South African Jazz Foundation is based in my hometown and the famous Main Sixties Party is a great attraction.