The 2nd World War broke out in 1939. From 1941 to 1943, Italian soldiers campaigned in the deserts of Egypt, Libya, and other parts of Africa.
Many of these soldiers were then captured and then incarcerated in Southern Africa. Despite their captivity, the prisoners began to fall in love with the beauty of the South African terrain.
Some wished never to leave and when the war ended, they made South Africa their home.
My father was 6 years old at the time of these incarcerations. During one school holiday, he happened to come across a group of Italian prisoners.
They had been tasked with the building of roads in the Drakensberg, a mountainous region of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
With my father’s inquisitive and kindhearted nature, they naturally took a liking to him.
A friendship was quickly established and the prisoners then began to grace my father with their beautiful voices, singing their Italian songs to him.
(Imagine, a choir of Pavarotti’s singing to an audience of one six year old boy) ah, Che Bello
My father developed great admiration for the kindness and compassion that these prisoners demonstrated. Years later, he would still speak so highly of them.
When he passed away “Che Bello”, was created in his memory and it is translated to “How Awesome”.
Che Bello is a local South African brand, inspired by a real Italian moment in time. It celebrates a remarkable experience in my father’s life - one that never left him.
Che Bello is not just bottled water. It represents the importance of small acts of kindness.
So, I thank the Italian Prisoners of War for their extraordinary kindness, and I thank my father for giving me the opportunity to create this brand.