Our lives often start the day we realize that growth is not a linear process. I write this with a cup of coffee in my hands and a few trophies to my name realizing now that I started to grow when I embraced just how messy the concept of growth is.
If it were up to me, I would be the Guru you think I am as you read this. Unfortunately, I am only a 25-year-old young man who has learnt that growth is not linear and success is not an accident.
This is why, I decided to tell you today – yes you – the child with dreams and ambitions, the teen who made a few mistakes, the graduate struggling to make ends meet and anyone who will be inspired by my story – I AM BEGGING YOU TO NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!
In case you need a reason why, my name is Kamohelo Khoboko and I am your reason why – just for today.
I am from the rural village of Lihlabeng, Ha-Foka in the outskirts of Peka in the Leribe district. I did not go to any private school due to financial constraints. I attended a very under-resourced primary school in my village.
Throughout most of the years as a student, I had to travel very long distances, crossing dongas and valleys to get school. It became very challenging for my peers and I when the rains had poured and filled the dongas.
Sometimes, the rain would wet my books and they looked ugly when they dried up. When teachers saw my books, I would suffer a good beating at how reckless and careless I became with the schoolbooks.
These became the reality I had to endure growing up in the rural areas. My mother taught me a lot about persistence during this time and when I finally left school, I graduated as one of the top performing students in my cohort.
From there, I was admitted for secondary education at one of the best schools in the country – Leribe English Medium School. I still remember the efforts that my poor mother made to see to it that her son gets an admission at Leribe English Medium.
As a boy who grew up in a poor neighborhood, it was a nerve-wrecking challenge for me to find a sense of belonging in this new resourced and highly privileged school. I wandered about trying to find myself for I felt that I didn’t belong.
No matter how hard I tried, I never seemed to fit in. Therefore, I decided to exist in peaceful detachment by merely existing as an ordinary person at school. Within this debilitating struggle to belong, I am indebted to the efforts of Mr. Ernest Chiombe who recognized a bit of talent in me and compelled me into joining the LEMS Debate Club.
It was from this moment that I started to feel at home in this highly incredible school. I believe it is safe to say that I found myself the moment I started to debate.
It is for this reason that I do not regret the opportunity to have been a part of Leribe English Medium. I look back at the lessons – both pleasant and unpleasant – which I received there and do not regret any of them.
The unpleasant ones may have created a void in me yet I still hold tight to some of them since they have made me the man I am. Being around a group of highly intelligent and resilient students, a fighting spirit within me was ignited and in 2014, I graduated as one of the best performing students in the country ranking eighth position nationwide.
I then joined the National University, Faculty of Law in 2015. I began to press on and worked hard to ensure that I passed. During the five years in pursuance of a degree, I started to grow beyond the classroom.
I achieved notable accolades as early as the first year wherein I was appointed the Student’s Law Society Secretary General and swiftly became a member of the University’s Debate Club.
In my 3rd year (2017/18), I auditioned to be part of the team that would represent the Faculty of Law and Lesotho at the 16th Edition of the European Law Students Association (ELSA) Moot Court Competition on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Law in Nairobi, Kenya. When the audition results were out, I made it to the top four students who would fly to Nairobi for the Competition.
In addition, I won the Intervarsity Moot Court Competition in 2019. In my 4th year (2018/19), I was selected to travel to Windhoek, Namibia to compete in the SADC Summit Tertiary debates.
In the same year (2019/20), I traveled to Gaborone Botswana for participation in the 28th All African Human Rights Moot Court Competition on International Human Rights Law. In this period, my academics were not compromised and an LLB Degree (Honors) was bagged.
Today, I am an Admitted Advocate of the Courts of Lesotho Practicing as such under R.A Sepiriti Chambers. International Human Rights Law and International Commercial Arbitration are areas of law I love and hope to do for my Master’s Degree.
Besides my professional accolades, I am also devoted to social responsibilities. I am a co-founder of an uncompromisingly beautiful program; Ahanang Mentorship Initiative. Equally, I co-founded the Lesotho Schools Moot Court Competition. I am also a member of the Bokamoso Young Foundation and I am affiliated with the Lesotho Law Society.
Joining the legal fraternity that is cited as noble, I have come to see and experience how messy life is post university. Young people experience a dehumanizing level of exploitation stemming from negligence from the responsible sectors in Lesotho that do not tend to rising levels of unemployment.
I speak of unemployment here because being an employee is what I can do in light of the absence of the privilege of resources to venture into entrepreneurship or starting my own ‘thing’. There is a privileged talk of how the youth must start their business and things equivalent to this.
However, I find it very troubling as it negates the atrocities of poverty levels flashing before the eyes of the youth in this country. I sometimes wonder as to who will be the customer if all of us are relentlessly encouraged to start businesses.
Why did I write this? Well, I wanted to tell my story. A story that will hopefully inspire someone in that I too have felt the pain of not belonging. I too have felt the pain of poverty. I too have felt the pain of exploitation.
Regardless of this, I have learnt that success requires many ingredients for it to manifest. Persistence, hard work and discipline are my keys. I still have a lot to learn but I hope that my story seared the words of my favorite author, Tsitsi Dangarembga into your heart.
She says, “You are a rare kind, you are the only one who can separate your observation from your perception in order to create a better reality.” I hope you open your eyes to see that power, for it lies within you.