Candidate Attorney Blogs
Salamu kutoka Tanzania!
"Greetings from Tanzania!"
My name is Peal Mathonsi; I am a second year Candidate Attorney based in the Durban office of Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa (NRF).
I am currently on secondment as a Trainee in our offices in Dar es Salaam and have been here since March 2017. I am due to return to South Africa at the end of July this year. My use of the word “due” as opposed to the definitive “am returning” is in the hopes that I will be asked to stay here a little while longer than expected because I have been having the time of my life and am not really keen to return to the motherland just yet!
One of the “perks” of working for an international law firm with a literal global presence is the opportunity to be considered for the firm’s international seat programme. We have over 50 offices all over the world and candidates like me are presented with opportunities to apply for a seat in one of the international offices. I have always had a very keen interest in the role the firm plays within the African continent so naturally, my interest peaked when I was presented with the opportunity to work in our Tanzania office for five months. I sent in my motivation and was grateful when I was selected for this once in a lifetime opportunity that has always been on my career radar ever since I started working at NRF.
The Tanzanian office is a small but relatively hard working, well-oiled machine that specialises in transactional work based on English law across East Africa and Southern Africa. We have three partners and about 5 qualified lawyers who advise on transactions that take place in the oil and gas, power, mining, telecoms and agriculture industries across the continent.
The office is set-up in a way that allows us to all work together as a team under the supervision of the relevant fee-earner. This has been very helpful in my transition to commercial transactional work from my litigation background because everyone is at arm’s length and are always willing to assist.
I have been fortunate enough to be involved in various multi-million dollar deals that not only expose me to wonderful opportunities to learn from the best legal minds but also give me an opportunity to be analytical, apply my mind and pay particular attention to detail when dealing with various agreements.
Friday drinks with the team at the Cape Town Fish Market downstairs from the office.
Work aside; I have managed to fulfil my other short-term goal which is to travel in and around Tanzania as much as I can before I head back to South Africa. Since I got here, I have managed to visit the town of Butiama which is the late former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere’s homestead and the incredibly beautiful Serengeti National Park.
For my visit to Butiama, I took a 1-2 hour flight from Dar es Salaam to a city called Mwanza and upon landing in Mwanza, a friend of mine I had met in Dar who is based in Mwanza was kind enough to take me to Butiama which is a two hour drive from Mwanza.
Without turning this write-up into a history lesson, I feel that it is important to mention that apart from having the country’s international airport named after him, Mwalimu Nyerere -as he is affectionately called by the locals because of his profession as a teacher before entering politics- played a very integral role in the narrative behind Tanzania’s peaceful transition into independence without a need for a war or bloodshed. It was also fitting to visit his home and museum when I learnt that he was close friends with Tata Nelson Mandela.
In fact, Tata personally paid for the house that is built around Mwalimu’s resting place because he felt that his friend should be laid to rest in a dignified setting. Mwalimu died of leukaemia in 1999. I was told that Mama Graça Machel had visited the homestead a week ago and planted a tree right outside the grave house. It was so heart-warming to walk where greatness had recently walked. A cherry-on-top moment was when the lady tour guide asked if I am related to Mama Graça because she sees a “resemblance”. Sadly, apart from the fact that we are both Shangaan-speaking with roots from Mozambique, there is no relation between us.
That is me standing outside the grave house that Tata Madiba built in Mwalimu Nyerere’s honour.
Standing outside the museum where all of Mwalimu’s favourite things and gifts from various dignitaries are displayed for public viewing.
Selfie featuring Edgar. Edgar was kind enough to take me to Butiama.
Current President; Dr John Magufuli introduced a new tourism tax levy of about $110 on all non-Tanzanians who wish to enter the park. Smiling in the photo above was really hard; I had just parted with a lot of dollars PLUS a 5% credit card forex fee just to get in!
Woke up at 4:30 am to go on an hour long hot air balloon ride and bush breakfast! That was definitely worth the wake!
View from the top!
The hot air balloon ride was followed by celebratory drinks and a yummy bush breakfast prepared and served by these wonderful gentlemen!
I recently turned 25 in April and as a birthday treat, a few friends and I visited the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti is what I call Tanzania’s national treasure. It is absolutely breathtaking and cannot be described in words so I will share some of the beautiful photos I took especially of the hot-air balloon ride where we flew over the Serengeti.
Stayed at this beautiful place called Tanzania Bush Camp. It is (obviously) situated in the bush, no gates, and no fences! This was a major milestone for me because I normally don’t camp so I was chuffed when I walked into the tent and it looked like a beautiful hotel room inside! Heard lion roars from what felt like a stone’s throw away and I THINK I may have heard a hyena sniff around my tent in the wee hours of the morning.
We leave and land on the ground like this, lying down!
View from the top!
With my Tanzanian buddies post-balloon ride; (from left) Flora who I studied with at Wits, Edgar, myself and Pam who was visiting family in Tanzania. Pam is a Tanzanian national currently living in Canada.
This was an amazing experience and a must-do for anyone who visits this beautiful country! I plan on wrapping up my travels by visiting Zanzibar with my sister when she comes to visit in July. Excited to share that in my next instalment!
This seat has taught me a lot about myself on both a personal and professional level. Personally, I have learnt to be more sociable and open-minded when it comes to making friends around here which is a great skill to develop from a business development perspective because ultimately, as a young lawyer, work is most likely to come from a network that should be developed from a very early stage. I have also learnt a lot about my ability to be more independent and responsible when it comes to spending money. Life here is a little more expensive than it is in South Africa therefore in order to get through the month; I have had to adjust my “unruly” spending habits. I have also come to appreciate that although culturally we are different, us Africans essentially come from one source; Mother Africa. There are universal similarities and mannerisms that I cannot really explain to someone who has not yet experienced it. Perhaps I will expand on this further in my final update. Until next time, kwaheri! (“Goodbye” in Swahili).