A Dedicated ikeja Employee Who Wears Many Hats

Author: Themba Kriger
Photos: Matthew Wareley

Originally from Durban, but based in Kraaifontein, Emmanuel Zungu is one of ikeja’s first employees, having joined the company from launch. A married father of two, the 54-year-old came from a background in alcohol distribution, managing a warehouse in the Western Cape.

Looking back at the early days of ikeja, Emmanuel remembers, “There were 5 of us, starting in Philippi. We operated out of a small office and started with community polls, where the clients could buy vouchers and connect. First by schools and creches, before spreading all over.”

His official role as an Ikeja driver has remained the same since launch, but Emmanuel has worn many hats as part of this job. “I do everything guys do in the field. Installations, crimping, installing, everything guys are doing now.

Thanks to this, Emmanuel has learned much more over the years than in his previous career. “I was dealing with alcohol, which is not difficult; you just need to take care of stock. When I came to ikeja it was different. They worked with the Internet, which was new to me. I learned a lot of things including crimping, running cables, all those sorts of things.”

This exposure to all aspects of the business has meant that Emmanuel also conquered his fear of heights when working at the top of the wifi masts. “I had to climb the mast; it was very scary, it’s a long tower, and at my age, and with my extra weight, it was a bit of a challenge for me, but as time went on I got used to it,” he recalls.

Still, he faces most challenges on the job that are easily solved by working with his colleagues. “We work as a team, so it’s easy to tackle whatever experiences we do have on the way. If I was learning, and there was something I wasn’t sure of, I used to find out from them.”

Emmanuel enjoys his current position and the experiences it provides, although he is open to new challenges, saying, “If there’s another position that suits me, I’ll go for it.”

Most recently, he has been joining Nuur Faarah, a Sales Specialist at ikeja, for client signs ups, meeting people from all walks of life, something Emmanuel especially enjoys. “We’ve been driving around meeting all kinds of people of the rainbow nation. I’ve been learning their languages to communicate with them so we can understand each other; that’s the part I enjoy the most.”

Having been with ikeja since 2015, Emmanuel has enjoyed his time with the business as he has learned a lot and has been able to support his family. “I enjoy this opportunity with Ikeja for opening a lot of things and for teaching me things I wasn’t capable of before. I’m learning every day, and as new things come up, I also learn them, which is good for me. Ikeja opened many doors for people who weren’t employed, and I’m grateful for that so that we can make a living and support our families.”