She is someone, who gives you energy starting from the way she talks to the things she says. She is small, but her determination to become some one great is bigger than her age and size. Sabela Tsegai, is a 24 years old lady with big hopes and dreams. She said “I sometimes think that I am greedy where ambition is concerned”. Sabel is remembered by her schoolmates as one of the most influential and inspirational students of their times.
In today’s Q&A, we give you a young Eritrean female judge who is leading a court at the Central Region Court. She has also worked as an associate judge and legal adviser after her graduation.
-It is nice to have you with us
The pleasure is all mine.
-How did you get into Law?
For starters, I wanted to be so many things when I was growing up. Which being a lawyer was among the many dreams I had. Also I never had many friends, so basically I spent my times reading a lot of books, so many of them. Recently I tried to count how many books I read but got tired of counting them. I was really interested in investigative or law related books. By the time i came back from Sawa, I found out that the Law Department was opening up and I took the chance to choose the department. It is an interesting department; there were so many interesting subdivisions; Political Science, Anthropology, and Archeology. I never used to give attention to those things. And I wanted to give it a shot. I got enrolled and I got it.
-Was it your first choice?
Well, I had two choices in mind, Mining Engineering and Law. I went to Nakfa for my cadre lessons so I didn’t get the orientation for the next departments to choose. But cadre was an important time for me as well since I had the intention to go for political science. Then again, I was advised that getting into political science through law is much easier and better. That was right.
-You said you wanted to be so many things…
The dream I am pursuing right now is one amongst many. I sometimes think that I am greedy where ambition is concerned. And sometimes I am very lazy to not work at the things I want as much as I should have. For instance I was 100% sure that I was going to get a full mark at the matriculation exam, instead I got 3.6. Which was alright but that is the only moment I regretted for not working as hard as I should have. I felt like I have let everyone who believed in me down. It was hard for me to find out that I was lower than everyone had expected me. I have never regretted any of my choices in life but that moment.
I never had many role models in my life except one, my grandmother. Despite the huge difference between us she has influenced me in so many ways. She has dictated what I believe and do at this moment and probably yet to come as well. She taught me to be strong and determined. I was actively participating in different activities as a student, I was one of the debaters in my schools. I even represented my region in a debating contest along with other debaters. I was also part of a TV program in Eri-Tv. I have also liked astronomical sciences, medical field especially cardiovascular surgery. But passion alone is not enough. For instance, I found out that I am no good to be a medical doctor after I fainted at a class tour we had in the blood bank when I saw blood. You should know that you can handle your career.
-How was Law school?
Law School is very interesting. You get to touch every aspect of every single person’s life; contracts, for instance, marriage the very thing that almost everyone does is a contract, Family law, and criminal law. It is a multicolored subject matter. It is a field that you work on with discussions. Even the exams are open book. I loved it.
-Your time in Sawa..
I have always liked adventures. Sawa was an adventure for me. It is the freest I have ever been. It is a place where you learn so many things and so many characters. I was never sick in Sawa except for one time, just after being there one month. Around 154 of us students lived under one roof, every one of them came to visit me and they took care of me in their own ways. That was one of my emotional moments. That is when I realized that you can never be alone in Sawa. We were like a big family.
-You went from Science to Social Science and Arts, was it challenging?
People’s opinions were exactly that. It was a change for me. It was not challenging, as a matter of fact it added an exciting turn in my life.
-Law career after graduation?
Honestly, it was a different world. An independent and observing one. I thought of it just as a career. But it is more than that actually, it is a life shaping constituent part. One thing I have learned is theory is way different than the world out there. Back in my junior and high school years, I lived on books. I was a loner and didn’t have many friends to play or talk with, so I drowned myself in books. That world where I was living in was a beautiful imaginative world, and Law school was like that for me. After graduation, when the stories I learned in theories became reality, it was different for me. I was going to be the one who dictates a person’s life. That decision I make is going to influence people’s lives in positive or negative ways. It was scary at first, specially recently as I became the judge for the Central region court. After graduation I did my community service as an associate judge of criminal bench and later was assigned as a legal adviser at the head office of the Ministry of Justice in the department called legal services. As there is reassigning, I went to judgeship.
-It was hard at first?
Yes, people don’t really like it when I am handling their cases. They look at me, how young I am and how small I am, they just don’t accept it. I tell them that it not my age or size judging them, it’s the position I have. In our culture’s perspective, we picture a judge as an older person, well reserved, calm and wise. All they see is a young lady handling their cases. So yes, sometimes it can be hard.
-Do we have many female lawyers?
I don’t have the statistics, but I don’t think that we can say we have the right number yet. Back in college we were not many. Now they are all working in different positions, some became prosecutors, some of them became associate judges and are working in different parts of the country. However, I think the numbers are increasing each year because the batch behind us were many in number. So the numbers are growing.
-Anything else you want to say…
One thing I learned in life, anything you wish or hope for, once you get it, it is never the same. I have changed my motto from a future based to present based. It used to be the other way around. My future was everything to me before I got older and knew the better of the world. But now my future is truly going to dictate my future. And my present I own it.
-Thank you Sabela