00:00:03 My name is Bola A. I work downstairs in the mail centre, South West mail centre, and I’m an OPG, which is a fulltime post person/acting deputy manager. We have the IMPS. That’s a letter sorting machine that looks like it’s got a tumble dryer. All this work goes in, it churns it all around, then it segregates the mail, then it feeds it through pulleys and belts. All the while, we have cameras which capture the address. They will decipher these addresses, relay it back to the machine, then the machine will know exactly where to sort it into. The machine is only as good as the person operating it, and you feel that oneness. If you have a work area manager and he understands that you understand the machine, he leaves you alone because you make him look good.
00:00:54 As a Nigerian, we don’t even discuss it. ‘You will go to school, you will go to university, and you will study law. ‘But why law, daddy?’ ‘Don’t interrupt me. You will study law. We need a lawyer in the family. We have an engineer, we have a doctor, we want a lawyer.’ So that’s the way it has been planned out. Everything is very rigid. When I came to this country, I realised I have a choice. I can actually decide for myself what I want and I don’t want.
00:01:22 I went to the University of East London and Barking, and I initially started off doing human resource management but I did not complete the final year, so it was downgraded to certificate of education in higher learning. I was living the good life. I was young, club nights, not finishing my coursework. ‘Oh, I can always defer it. I can always defer it.’ You run out of deferments and then you have to drop that model and choose another pathway. Then I ran out of pathways. My mother wasn’t happy – family lectures, sermons ‘Oh, you’ll be the black sheep,’ blah, blah, blah. I tried to make her understand that my heart wasn’t in it. And if my heart was not in it, I could not give a hundred percent. She’s a lot happier now because she sees I have focus. And I have been planning to go back ever since, but in between then, family, mortgage, but I do realise that I will get to a stage where I feel like I don’t have the necessary skills or the steam to get to the next level, and university or some sort of further education will pretty much be pivotal in pushing me to the next level.
00:02:33 There was a defining moment. It happened about the industrial action nearly two years ago. We’d been called out again by the union for very important reasons, as they would say, but I begged to differ. I walked across the picket line. I came into work and I was so happy to see other people had gone across the decision of the union. All their peers had come to work. Then I approached one of our senior managers and voiced my opinion to him that one of the major reasons why we’re having so much civil unrest is because of the relationship between staff and managers. He just threw the question back at me and said, well, you know, would I be any different? I said ‘Give me an opportunity.’ Four months later I got the call, ‘Would you like to go and start acting at Mandela Way,’ which is one of our hub offices, which has been closed down now, out of the blue. I jumped at it and things have just been happening since then.
00:03:32 When I can afford to, I try and leave the country. Most of the time now I try and go by train. It’s fun. You get to see all the sceneries, the mountains. You’re proper tired when you get to your destination but it was worth it. I spend time with my family – my wife and my daughter – a lot. When I am at home, it is quality time. I just switch everything off and ‘Okay, daddy is here for you, babes. You’ve got twenty-four hours. Hit me.’ We just spend time.