Q – Can you introduce yourself, sir? Give us an insight into your background?
My name is Njabulo Ntombela. I was born and raised at Nkandla village. I’m one of four children on my dad’s side and one of two on my mother’s. I’m a candidate Attorney at Thula Mlondo Attorneys.
Q – Why did you choose to study law as your profession?
Well, I didn’t actually choose to study law. Back in high school when I was doing my matric in 2011, my teachers as well as my friends at the time actually got me to study law. They had the perception that id actually makes a good lawyer. They believed in me and that as I had been the school’s Head Boy I had represented the students well. Personally, I actually had wanted to study journalism, media, or something along that root, but anyway I didn’t have a problem with attempting law it’s not that far from journalism I think and as a result here I am.
Q – What was the occasion where you dress your great grandmother in your gown and why not your mother or other family members?
On the day it was my graduation. I dressed my great grandmother my graduation gown because she was the person that had actually been there for me through and through and that she’s the person I believe has sacrificed not only for me alone in the family but for everyone and that the unfortunate part is that I think that she has not received the recognition and appreciation from us that she deserves, and therefore for me that was the opportunity and I took it.
Q – What was the toughest decision you have ever had to make in your career?
The toughest decision that I had to make in my career is that I actually had to confront the reality of the profession if I can say, in that, at times you find that there are cases that really challenge your personal being and moreover your consciences such as rape cases and the like, eventually I had to come to the understanding that it’s a job that I’m doing and that I’m not the judge but God is. That it’s a profession just like any other profession.
Q – The phrases “it is an inappropriate dressing to wear on your graduation day’ have been used frequently in your platforms to describe your choice of dressing and your decision to celebrate your great grandmother, as a seasoned lawyer and a well-informed person, would you agree as a gentleman who is known by people as a very strong and vibrant man that your dressing was inappropriate and your decision was not born out of emotions or what motivated you to do that? Why were you not dressed in your graduation ceremony gown?
I think the inappropriateness of my dress code is referred mostly to my traditional dress being ibheshu than it is with the graduation gown being worn by my grandmother and not by myself. Well, my dress code was inappropriate to those who think so, in the sense that they had expected compliance to a system that they had been taught and maybe imagined to happen in such gatherings or graduation ceremonies. They were not ready for transformation and or anything outside what they had expected. For that, I don’t blame them. I mean, a person’s mental capacity level comprises of many things. But in all honesty, my choice of appearance, not a dress code and I think that’s where the mistake is. A dress code is what you get on the invitation card at the bottom for that event. Otherwise, I lose the meaning of “code” in dressing. I dressed in a way that I so fit for myself and the occasion. Yes, there were emotions and the reason to appreciate my grandmother but it wasn’t the main drive to not pleasing whoever expected the norm. The drive was to be nothing less or more than being me. An African Zulu man.
Q – What’s your take on youths participating in Active Leadership in Africa? And what do you have to say to young people who shy away from their roots, cultural heritage, their true identity, once they are privilege to get some western exposure?
It goes without saying that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Sadly that has been one of the famous lines that our elderly leaders often preach but fail to practice and implement. African leadership needs transformation and transition from the old to the young. The youth brings in new ideas and they come with motivation and energy to serve and deliver or at least that is what is expected because at times now you hear of corruption activities in student-led organisations at the tertiary level.
There’s not much that one can actually say to people who lose themselves to being other people. That person is more like a kite they move with the wind. All I can say is shame on them. They have succumbed to foreign teachings to the point that they have less valued themselves.
Q – How do you manage the multiple roles of being a husband, father, young visionary and lawyer without being misunderstood?
Well fortunately or unfortunately I’m not yet married nor a father and besides, even if I were, being misunderstood for anything is always a given. People always see in other people what they want to see. I mean some have criticized my actions on my graduation day while others have judged my choice of appearance at the same time many have congratulated me. It’s highly unlikely to perceive an individual in their true sense because at times in one’s actions there’s always more than one interpretation to them. What I’ve told myself is to be me and do me. At the same time, I’m not objecting to positive criticism. With that said as much as you human you can never please everyone no matter how hard you may try to balance everyone but at the end of the day allow people to criticize, misunderstand you, and so on but don’t succumb to their criticism.
Q – Attaining the height you are now academically is all about determination and your accomplishments have shown that you are a man that understands what you truly want in life. What do you think determines the success of a man from a very poor background without having much moral and financial support to achieve greatness or get a quality education?
Q – There is this belief that Africans are poor and cannot survive or become socio-economically independent without the western countries’ influence or support. Do you agree with this assertion?
I don’t agree with the assertion at all but at least I think I do understand why some people think like that. It is because the west come on our lands and took what is ours by force. The fact that there’s someone who was born and raised from a poor background but has been raised to achieve greater things without a specific form of support in the form of a bursary or some sort of sponsorship, clearly illustrates that we always been good without them. Let alone handouts from the west. It is unfortunate that our wealth, resources, and mostly our African uniqueness have and is being taken away from us. The west is merely giving back what it took from us and they feel better when they phrase it as “help” or “sponsorship”, “donations”, and so forth.
Q – What advice do you have for young people who are seeking to be like you when they grow up?
I’m not sure if they can be like me no (pun intended) or if I’m even the best person to be, but what I can say is that, if you want to get somewhere in life, be someone or archive something, you need to first acknowledge that you human and that you not the only human there is. You need to know that what makes you human is not what you have or don’t have but the fact that you are breathing and have the features that define a human then that’s what makes you one so as the next person. Assets, things, money and so on doesn’t define a human and therefore for one to dream they must first be human as well as a human that can see another human being. Be kind. Be grateful. Make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t force things without limiting yourself.
Q – What is the most challenging thing you have had to face as a person who doesn’t joke about his identity, roots, culture and beliefs, an African leader, a lawyer in your office with the grassroots and the people of your country where you serve as a young visionary who wants to maintain and retain your cultural heritage despite all the western exposure and education?
One thing I have had to face is that, I’m surrounded by different people from different backgrounds and that even people that you may expect to think like yourself and or encourage you to do what it is that you wish to do, sometimes you find that those very same Africans think and see things differently and I can’t blame them. I can try and get them to understanding their root
Q – Should western exposure or academic qualifications or academic success make us forget who we are or where we come from? How can we use this to better the lives of our people, develop our communities and still maintain our cultural heritage?
One thing I have had to face is that, I’m surrounded by different people from different backgrounds and that even people that you may expect to think like yourself and or encourage you to do what it is that you wish to do, sometimes you find that those very same Africans think and see things differently and I can’t blame them. I can try and get them to understand their root
Q – Looking back at your growing up years, what would you say was one thing you could have done better or differently?
No. as I have mentioned above that we were and are better of without the west. It is not wrong to learn a thing or two from your neighbor or friend but it shouldn’t change you to want to think like your friend or neighbor unless you have nothing to hold on to. Being educated and being qualified is a good thing to happen to a person but only if it makes you a better you. When it begins to change you then resources have been wasted on that individual.
Q – Looking back, what will you say has been your biggest achievement and your biggest challenge?
Q – If destiny permits you to find yourself in a higher leadership position, what’s your burning desire for your people of South Africa and the African continent as a whole?
*Seeing people prosper or being occupied by good deeds that improve their wellbeing always
brings comfort and leaves me with some form of satisfaction. If you can change your neighbors’ life
for the better you can change many people’s lives. I always wish I could do something for everyone
but charity begins at home and at this stage my granny is my first priority.