God is still writing your story, quit stealing the pen

By | 25 May 2020

Born and raised in the multicultural streets of Attridgeville Township in Pretoria, I experienced how tough life was during the struggle for liberation. Socio-economic inequality was rife and opportunities looked bleak for people of colour. However, I did not allow these adversities to limit my potential or curb the opportunities that came my way as I grew older.


Growing up during my early years, I appreciated the juxtaposed life I lived – leaving my grandmother’s house every morning by bus on the one hand, to engaging and holding my own among my fellow privileged school mates in the city on the other. Many similar experiences manifested during my undergraduate studies.


As a law student, I engaged in a variety of activities – the highlight being the 2017 UNISA Moot Court Competition wherein I had the privilege of participating. Mooting saw my teammates and I appearing before prominent legal figures such as the former Deputy Judge President of the High Court (GLD), Justice P. Mojapelo, as well as our very own SABWiL Founder, Adv. Ayesha Tiry. Winning the UNISA National Moot Court Competition that year whilst I studied via correspondence as a distance learner, testifies to the invaluable skills that can be attained through perseverance and commitment.


The moot competition, along with other legal engagements, such as the SABWiL Shadowing experience with Adv. Naseema Adam of Maisels Chambers truly sharpened my career competencies. These competencies coupled with the discipline of working under pressure and managing an intense workload within a stipulated deadline became incalculable when I commenced my articles of clerkship. These experiences are but diamonds extracted from a journey of intense heat and pressure. However, it is the fusion of passion and love I have for people and the law that has sustained me through this journey.


I derive a great source of consciousness from my grandfather’s experience of being a Malawian refugee in South Africa. His story sparked a deep love for public interest law, and refugee law in particular. Imagine the excitement that consumed me after receiving a confirmation letter of appointment as a Lawyers for Human Rights intern, under their ‘Refugee and Migrant Rights’ programme – I was elated!


Through the internship, I was afforded the opportunity to actualise the foundational values embraced and promoted by the SABWiL movement, inter alia the spirit of ubuntu, as well as the consciousness of dignity, equality and freedom. Nothing makes you realize what it means to be a pioneer of justice quite like being on the frontline of assisting displaced, destitute, and culture shocked asylum-seekers, amid fighting the continent destroyer – xenophobia.


What I thought would be a straightforward journey to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), took a detour when I made the decision to serve articles at a corporate law firm. The quote “if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” could not be more true. I have come to learn that the journey of becoming a notable legal practitioner, specifically at the candidate legal practitioner level, is to gain experience in various areas of practice in order to make an informed decision on specialisation.


As the end of my article contract nears, I am that much more grateful for the detours and interjections. These have allowed me to engage in work of which I could never have dreamt. My journey has placed people on my path that I otherwise would never have known. Yes, my UNHCR dream is still alive, but how I get there, is for God to continue to write.


Clean hands are healthy hands.
Let’s stop the surge of Covid-19, by adhering to the national regulations imposed around social distancing, washing of hands, and wearing masks.


Abigail Omowele
SABWiL Alumni NEC (Media and Public Relations Officer)
Candidate Attorney – Erasmus De Klerk Incorporated

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