While Rondebosch resident Andre du Toit was not born in Cape Town, he says spiritually, it is his home.
Andre, also known as the Big Positive Guy, grew up in Durban, and then studied mathematics through Unisa, after which he landed a job with in an insurance company, and moved to Cape Town.
“My first office I had in my new job was on the 14th floor of the building in Thibault Square. Right there, my first love affair with the city began. I had the most beautiful view.
“I spent 12 happy years in that office. My wife worked across the road and we would come to work together. Back then, everyone just poured into restaurants to get out of the office and drink coffee. Cape Town is really one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
Thereafter, Andre was transferred to Germany, where he spent four years as the managing director at Hannover Reinsurance Internet Services.
The company then asked him to relocate to Germany permanently, and despite it being a fantastic career opportunity, he decided to return to South Africa.
“I couldn’t possibly leave South Africa. Everything I loved is here, and I felt that I have a lot to do here. I needed to come back.”
However, when he returned, many people reacted negatively.
“Everyone asked me why I left such a big opportunity to come back. And I always said that we have much more opportunities here in an environment we know well.” This is when Andre decided to talk about being South African – the challenges and the opportunities there are here.
“There was a massive audience for this. And then I got another booking, and another, and from then on I did nothing but speak and share the good news.”
Asked how he came up with the name Big Positive Guy, Andre said when people wanted to hire him for talks, they could never remember his name.
“People started asking for ‘the positive guy – the big one’, and I liked it, so I renamed my business The Big Positive Guy.”
In 2016, Andre was approached by a local radio station to feature on air.
“I now have my own show called Smile Inspires the Big Positive Guy, where I tell people how amazing South Africa is.”
Since then Andre has moved offices to Pier Place in the city centre. “I love it there. They’ve modernised it so much, and it now also sports a rooftop garden. It’s amazing.”
He sometimes has to work on Sundays, and Andre said this is the best time to be in the city centre.
“I come in at 6pm to 8pm, and the CBD is such a different place. Everything is clean, there are no people. It’s so quiet and serene. And the best part is there is parking everywhere.
“I am not born Capetonian, but spiritually, I am one. I’ve had the privilege of travelling to many places around the world, but the city has it all. For the 21 years I have been in Cape Town, I’ve worked in the city centre for 13 of them because I love being here – I love where the action is.”
Andre said a big part of his work is reminding people how amazing South Africa is, and the city centre is testament to that.
“All the restaurants are beautiful, the people are beautiful – if you look for the beauty, it’s everywhere.”
He also tries to keep his talks relevant – with main topics now being about land reform. While Andre acknowledges that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, he said the social ills cannot be “wished away”.
You can’t wish away the car guard or the beggars. We have to learn to live with them.
Cape Town has done well, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’m not blind to it, but I know it may never go away.”