She is the voice that ripples through the Jozi airwaves every morning. She is young, smart, spirited and a jack of all trades. She sees herself ‘as a successful person, especially having achieved the things that I have at my age. I want to be more successful and more influential. I am a woman of purpose,’ she says. But who is she really, and what is it exactly that she’s achieved?
Bolele Polisa , is best known as the news anchor of UJFM’s Breakfast show. She is like any other a 25-year-old, except that she owns a property investment company and a catering service. While studying marketing at UJ, she was a campus manager for Student Village and is a motivational speaker.
Successful people often quote one piece of advice as the root of all their success. The advice that Bolele got from her father was that ‘the best time to get to know yourself is in action.’ She said she uses it as her daily mantra and she’s only seen the advice play out in the past four years.
The marketing graduate said it was the people in her life that inspired her to be who she is today. ‘My dad is just so stuck on business, with him having branched in[to] a whole lot of different businesses inspired me to get into [the world of] business,’ she said.
Bolele also has a mild obsession with food. ‘I love food. A lot of people will tell you that when it comes to food “don’t disturb her, don’t ask her for her food”. I’m like a big foodie,’ she laughed. I’m always just experimenting with food and just trying to find different tastes and flavours.’
Bolele has managed to turn her love for food into a business – ‘Grilled Fresh’ a stall at 1Fox the shed in Ferreiras Dorp, Johannesburg. She would often go to markets around Johannesburg and that’s when she got the idea.
‘If I’m outdoors I find myself going out to experience different cuisines. I’d always find myself at a market every second weekend,’ she said. In her frequent visits to the market, she noticed a gap. She thought ‘hmm, these places are kind of missing something that I could bring to the table.’
“The best time to get to know yourself is in action.”
Bolele seems to have a knack for business because the food industry is not the only one she’s ventured into. She is the Founder and Director of ‘Rebatle Property Investment’. ‘Rebatle (we’re beautiful in Sotho) deals with developing, refurbishing and then selling off [the] property and renting out.’
Bolele says she wants the business to branch into interior design and architecture.
Property is not an easy business to venture into and often a team effort is required. ‘Every time I’m in business I don’t refer to myself as “I” or “me” because I don’t do it alone,’ she said. ‘As much as it’s my baby my dad really does help me with it. It’s a very tough thing to do.’
‘Business is not easy, oh my word, and sometimes I feel like “Why did I get into this?” she exclaimed.
But sometimes having the extra hands can lead to even more issues. ‘The most difficult part about [it] is being hands-on in the business and actually having your vision seen by the people that are working with you,’ she said.
‘You’ve got this great vision but if they don’t have it then things won’t be executed the way that they need to because they don’t see it the way that you do.’
She’s not just out to make a stand in the business world, Bolele also believes in helping her fellow human beings. She worked as an Ambassador and Campus Manager at Student Village for two years.
Working for the company had a lasting effect on this lively radio personality. ‘It gave me a lot of courage and strength. Being a student village Ambassador made me learn more about myself. When you have to facilitate activations on campus it’s not about you. It’s not about anyone but the project at hand and the client,’ said Bolele.
It’s no secret Bolele is a brave and bold character considering what she’s achieved so far, but even strong women get scared sometimes.‘My greatest fear used to be heights and I conquered that fear in 2015,’ she said.
Like she does at the beginning of each year, in 2015 Bolele set goals for herself and was determined to face her acrophobia head on.‘I went bungee jumping in 2015 and that actually just unlocked a whole lot of other fears that I may have been experiencing. The fear of actually going after my dreams. The fear of actually speaking to people that I need to speak to, to get somewhere in life,’ she explained.
Bolele has also ventured into motivational speaking. Last year she attended a charity drive held by Encounter Events. ‘I was just there to help with the distribution of the pads because we were collecting a lot of pads for school girls,’ she explained.
The co-owner of Encounter Events, Tremaine, asked Bolele to say a few words to the girls. ‘When I stood in front of those girls I had just planned to tell them who I was and what I do and that would be it. But after I experienced the energy that was in that room, I felt compelled to tell my story,’ she said.
The story she told them was one of personal struggle, low self-esteem and bullying. ‘In primary school I lost my front teeth,’ she laughed. ‘I was playing on a see-saw with my cousin and then I jumped off the see-saw when it was low. When he came back up it hit me and knocked out my teeth.’
Bolele was teased for how she looked by other pupils at her school and the abuse took its toll on her. ‘I became this person that was so enclosed in a box. I became this person that didn’t want to smile anymore. I became this person that just really didn’t want to be around people, because people had combated my self-confidence.’
‘I always kind of took my past experiences for granted, I didn’t realise that me actually telling those stories helped people get through different phases or different things in their lives that they were probably going through at the time,’ she said of this momentous event.
For Bolele the worst part of her experience with bullying was that she had to go through it alone. ‘My parents never really knew the kind of experiences I had at school,’ she said.‘They would just see me come home, laugh and be my happy self. They didn’t know that behind my closed door in my room I’d be crying and just releasing the pain that I experienced in that day,’ she remembered.
Despite not knowing about the torment that Bolele received from her peers, her parents were very supportive. After two to three years of regular trips to the dentist with her mother, Bolele was able to grow back her teeth.
“My parents never really knew the kind of experiences I had at school.”
Growing up was not always so gloomy for Bolele, in fact, her earliest childhood memory is a happy one. ‘The birth of my little brother,’ she recalls, is her earliest childhood memory. ‘It was amazing!’ she said. ‘When you’re so used to being alone and you don’t really know how life works, you’re in this world with people and now you need to take care of each other as [siblings].’
‘For about five years I lived my life just me, and my parents of course,’ she said. ‘When my mum fell pregnant I was excited I was happy and then I had to go to the UK with my dad I was visiting a cousin that stays that side,’ she got very emotional as she spoke about meeting her brother, Bonolo, for the first time.
‘When I came back he was born, he was there sitting in his cot he was just so fragile,’ she remembered. ‘At that time, I wasn’t even taught how to carry a kid and I just picked him up and my mum was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa you need to carry him like this support his neck”,’ she laughed.
Today their relationship is still rock solid. ‘He’s like my best friend now, like as much as we fight, like siblings fight, there’s no dull moment while we’re together.’
Being the organised character that she is, Bolele is sure of one thing – her future. ‘A very, very big dream of mine is to see myself on a much bigger radio station, reaching millions of people. To see myself as a successful businesswoman, an influencer and a woman that is true to herself, [and] her values.’
She wants to be ‘a woman that encourages other women to work together where they need to work together to achieve a greater purpose.’ Bolele hopes to become part of a generation of women who uplift each other instead of undermining their fellow women. She is currently working on expanding her businesses and starting a food blog. TOJ