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Young, gifted and black

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Lesego Leshie Nswahu Nchunga
ALL ROUNDER: Lesego Nswahu Nchunga

 

“I have been told that I am brutal and hardworking. I am uncompromising when it comes to my work. The law is an art form in itself. The art of telling the story of the truth in such a manner that justice is not compromised. “

This was said by none other than Lesego Nswhu Nchunga, a lawyer by training and an artist by choice known and spoken of by many in the art circles as ‘Leshie love song.’

Expressing one’s ignorance of Nchunga’s work attracts disapproving and shocked looks as I am told she has a magical voice that can string words so beautifully both in spoken word and in song.

The 27- year- old attorney, activist, poet, singer, songwriter, and all round pursuer of life, is unstoppable.

Originally from Kavimba, a village in the Chobe District, Nchunga studied law at the University of Botswana and learnt art ‘off the streets.’ Born to parents that are artists at heart, it is not surprising that she got the talent.

Nchunga’s father, a pastor plays the guitar and sings and her dentist mother writes poetry and is an avid reader.

She has been practicing law for the last four years with Dow & Associates and now a partner at the law firm since January 2015.

“My focus has been on Human Rights advocacy and litigation and advocacy; and laws of persons, including family law, being matrimonial law, custody and maintenance, domestic violence and universal partnerships. I have also dabbled in the fields of corporate governance, commercial law, civil litigation, and currently criminal law. In addition to all this, I am a conveyancer and notary public.”

Her work as an attorney took her to Cincinnati, Ohio for five months in 2015, where she worked in a Domestic Violence Clinic, through the Urban Morgan Institute, which is a Human Rights institution.

Lesego Leshie Nswahu Nchunga
IN HER ELEMENT: The multi-talented Leshie

While there, she took classes on International Women’s rights and Women in Conflict. One would think that makes Nchunga a very busy individual, but she finds time to indulge in her other love as an artist.

Beginning her life of performance, she became a member of Exodus Live Poetry (ELP!) in 2007.

“This is where I learnt the art of monetizing my craft. Initially, I identified as a theatrical poet, but as time went on, I discovered that I am a singer and actress as well. I had been writing both poetry and songs from a very young age, and it has, for as long as I can remember, always come naturally to me. As an adult I am more aware and deliberate about my work, and respectful to my audience in that I endeavor to give them value for their time. Reading and editing has become a crucial part of my process.” Nchunga says.

Concerning stage freight she says, “ I just imagine it is not “me” on stage.

“I think the fear comes from a place of not wanting to be subjected to public scrutiny, so most times, I take on a character. Often times, that character shares a naming with the role I am in, like “lawyer” or “poet”, and in that moment, I become just that, and nothing else. It is exhausting. But I enjoy challenging the fear tremendously.”

As an attorney, Nchunga is often celebrated for her exceptional work, especially when she takes on cases of public interest, such as the recent Thuto Rammoge & 19 others v AG, popularly known as the Case for the Registration of Legabibo.

“I received a lot more public ‘praise’ for that than usual but I treat my clients with equal importance.”

As a feminist and social justice advocate the progressive lawyer will however not accept discriminatory work, irrespective of financial implications.

Any work that instigates violence against minorities, or anyone else for that matter, and work which fuels stigma is what she would consider to be discriminatory work.

“I also find it difficult to do work which is almost entirely censored in that one dictates to me exactly what I should say, and how I should say it,” She says.

Apart from her parents in whom she always finds solace, Nchunga is inspired and mentored by TJ Dema (artist) of Sauti Arts and in the practice of the Law, Dr. Unity Dow, Pepsi Thuto, and Rita Keevil.

Away from work, she indulges in books and travel.

“I have to be able to turn the pages with my finger, I want to feel the texture of the pages, I want the weight of the book in my hand, I enjoy reading almost everything and I buy almost four books every month. I do not read all of them, but I love having them.”

Her travels include visiting the Chobe at least thrice a year.

“I love watching the sun setting into the waters. If peace were tangible, that sight would be it. The colors that possess the sky each evening, almost in celebration of a day just ended. The Thamalakane too feels like home. Nature has a way of purifying and healing that we often take for granted. But that is why our country makes so much money from tourism, and especially tourists from the more developed global North, where authentic natural spaces are limited. I make the best of my travel up North. I use them for spiritual re-connection, and for reflection, away from the city. I live for that.” She quips in conclusion.