I was born and bred in Elandskop, a deep rural area in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. I was raised in a homely environment, which included going to school and tending to my grandfather’s cattle. Life in the rural areas seemed to be motionless. However, it was possible for one to dream their way out and it is this belief that pulled me out of my early circumstances.
After matriculating in 2015, I applied to the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). By faith I was admitted to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law the following year. Upon completion of this degree in 2018, I enrolled for the LLB degree. I am currently in my final year.
The rationale behind my degree choice was inspired by my late grandfather, who dreamt of becoming a lawyer one day. Unfortunately, he was only able to secure a cleaning job at a law firm in the early nineties, under the apartheid system.
I believe that as human beings, we need to live our lives in accordance with certain rules and principles. I personally live by a rule which I extracted from 12 Rules of Life, a book by Dr Jordan B Peterson. Rule 9 of the book states: “Always assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”. It is through this rule that I understood the importance of always being attentive to everyone around me.
My university journey has been an interesting one. It has assisted in shaping me into the person that I am today. In my early university days, I aimed to study so that I would graduate and be awarded my degree. However, in my second year (2017) I joined an organisation called Enactus. This experience played a pivotal role in building my personality and character. I realised that being in university was not only about studying one’s preferred course. It was also to nurture, train and develop oneself.
Enactus provided me with a platform to be who I wanted to be and it exposed me to a variety of opportunities that improved my leadership skills. It was through this experience that I received the opportunity to educate in many disadvantaged communities, thus, contributing to improve livelihoods. My passion to help the less fortunate exists because of the great love I have for my community. My experience at Enactus taught me the value of humility and appreciating all the little things on this journey called life.
In 2019 I joined another great organisation known as Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter (BLAsc). I joined this organisation because I wanted to learn more about the legal profession through active participation in their programmes. BLAsc has also exposed me to great opportunities. One opportunity entailed submitting arguments for assessment. Individuals with excellent arguments were to be chosen to form part of a team that would compete against other universities in the Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration Moot competition (FDI).
Initially, I was hesitant to draft an argument for submission. I, however, decided that I had nothing to lose. To my surprise, I was chosen to form part of the team. Through this opportunity, I was introduced to an amazing group of people with whom I am still close today. Our team won the FDI competition. This experience has greatly impacted my growth in the legal community and has ignited a strong passion for international investment law.
My teammates and I went on to enter the 2019 SABWiL Human Rights Court after winning the FDI moot. The entrenched section 20 right to citizenship was in issue. Though different to the FDI competition, it was an exceptionally good learning experience. I met amazing people through this competition who assisted me to work more effectively in a team. The experience further presented opportunities for me to grow as a person, as well as in my understanding of the law. I appreciate having the opportunity to be part of the SABWiL movement.
I believe that the mind is everything. With the right mind-set, we can achieve anything to which we set our minds. It is important to take every opportunity that comes our way with both hands. Vuk’uzenzele.
We continue to urge our members to practice physical distancing and observe the rules that are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Ubuntu.
Alumnus Thobelani Ngcobo