In a universe that assigns one purpose and limits one to a particular career path as means of achieving this, it is almost impossible to attribute excellence to a person who is considered a “jack-of-all-trades”, as this is instantaneously characterizes as lacking focus and eventually resulting in excellence in one are, but failure in another. However, the business and evolution of what is considered a career, requires one to explore their full skills set, and to do what their skills and talent sets allows them to, in parallel.
Defying the status quo and approaching purpose using the full skills set approach and aligning that to purpose is Veroschkka. Dubbed the Nubian ARTivist, Veroshkka uses arts to actively draw attention to injustices that affect people of colour, with a distinct focus on marginalized groups in settings such as corporate South Africa. Her peculiar approach to activism is eminent in her professional life too. As a lawyer, Veroschkka uses her “traditional career” to drive activism forward. She is currently a candidate attorney, channels her activism through being an agent of social justice and a voice for others through law.
Her journey to ARTivism and Law started from an early age, through her involvement in social development in her hometown, Polokwane. Her love for activism began in 2002 through her childhood participation in an NGO, Baagi People’s Arts in partnership with UNICEF, based in the Seshego township of Limpopo. She obtained skills in workshop facilitation and learnt to use the arts as a medium to create social change. The focus of the activism program was to use the arts to create awareness and educate the community about Children’s Rights, Human Rights and the causes, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, she has been involved in projects that lead to social cohesion, protecting democracy and transformation. She volunteers as an administrator for the Johannesburg leg of Consciousness Café SA, a nationwide NPO, pop-up dialogue facilitation vehicle which encourages the values of democracy and social cohesion
Furthermore, she started her legal career in 2015 upon completing her Practical Legal Training at the Law Society of South Africa’s Legal Education and Development Centre in Polokwane. She is currently a candidate attorney and completing her articles of clerkship at a commercial law firm in Parktown, Johannesburg after which, she will be admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
Veroschkka also co-founded JC Reigns Entertainment (Pty) Ltd which is a company focused on engaging and empowering the youth through the arts, literature, media and entertainment. She involved herself in various speaking arrangements and youth empowerment causes. Through JC Reigns Entertainment, she hosted poetry sessions named “Poetry with Presence,” as well published a quarterly, online magazine called “Clay” from 2012 to 2015.
The release of her EP titled “Lentose” which is a poetry extended play soundtrack with five different poems briefly documenting a journey of a young woman into adulthood in a South African context, will be her way of taking ARTivism to the next level. It boasts themes of African pain, African excellence, African beauty, emerging victorious in life situations and hard work through poetry. The EP will be released on the 15th of December.
We had an opportunity of catching up with Veroschkka to find out more about her project, being a jack-of-all trades, and what drives her to meticulously do what she does in parallel and how that feeds into purpose.
Takes us through your background and how you ended up in the legal profession?
I grew up in a family of educators, activists and artists. I knew that I wanted to be in a field that would allow me to read, write, talk, educate, advocate for others and express some creativity. I received a bursary from Wits to study something in the science field but thinking about it and going through the registration process sent me into a mini depression. The bursary was the only thing on the table after I completed my matric but I knew that the science field was not one I wanted to play in. My dad then went to University of Limpopo for me and applied for me to study law. That's how I ended up studying law, it seemed like the closest authentic stream that would challenge me and compliment my natural talents. I had peace about it. Entering the legal profession was a natural progression from graduation and I am having the time of my life!
What is your 5 year plan in terms of law?
This is a sensitive question *laughs* I am currently in a corporate/commercial law firm, the corporate coin and company law is something I am enjoying. I plan on sticking to this field throughout my career and add to it with intellectual property law. The great thing about law is that one can qualify their expertise through various means. I enjoy finding solutions for people in legal distress. Ideally, I also want to branch out onto platforms that create access to justice for all classes of South Africans in whichever area of law I am practising in.
As a creative, how then did you end up pursing both law and arts concurrently?
Honestly, it just happened. When I am not "young lawyering" I am found amoung artists or in artistic spaces. When I'm not in those spaces, I want to draft documents and do research. As a child I thought of activism as something that goes hand in hand with the arts. Pursuing them both was a matter of realizing that my parents made many sacrifices for me to be able to pursue all that is dear to me, not to be happy in piece-meals. Whereas our ancestors were somewhat limited in their career choices, I saw other women today doing things that seem like they are worlds apart, a doctor and a Miss South Africa for example. It stopped being a matter of A or B but rather A AND B. It's a weird and spiritual thing for me. The two streams are not separate to me at all.
How would you describe yourself as an artist? What is your asthetic?
I would describe myself as an artist who is concerned about serious issues of society, particularily young women and young people in general. I want that to come out through my artistry. I am a serious person, I spend a lot of time observing rather than commenting on things. Then I process and document my journey through writing and poetry. My aesthetic is young, serious and real.
Who do you look up to in terms of merging both law and arts (2 different entities) and why?
ZAMA MKHOSI, ZAMA MKHOSI, ZAMA MKHOSI. I look up to her a great deal. This to me is a woman who went after all the things that set her heart on fire. She's an attorney by profession and is currently the CEO of the NFVF and was one of the masterminds behind Heartlines and other great initiatives, she's a progressive force to be reckoned with.
Another person I look up to is Makgetsi Annabelle Mphahlele. MD at M.A. Mphahlele Attorneys among many other things. She taught a class at the law school I went to, she's from my home town and kasi, she also got her LLB degree at my alma mater. I've had the privillege of asking her a couple of career related questions in passing and she inspired me to think beyond the current expectations of what a legal career supposedly has to look like. She's basically a picture that says its possible girl, happening right here in your back yard. All the excuses are a lie.
What drives you?
A passion for social justice, a need for generational and communal wealth creation and these two quotes: "I have come in the volume of which it was written of me." "I am worthy enough to follow my dreams and manifest my desires."
What are you hoping to achieve through the release of you E.P? What can people expect?
I am hoping to uplift people through my content, if people can catch and relate with the things I am saying in my poems and can find their way in their own environment then I'll be happy. If they can't relate it is also alright, I'm hoping it'll make them uncomfortable enough to look into some of the issues I've raised. I've got five tracks on it because I didn't want to talk too much this time around. I have a house track on it too that I just want people to dance to and feel good about themselves and their hustle... People can expect an easy yet heavy listen. They can expect a variety of sounds, so it’s some poetry, some Sepedi and some music.
As an ARTivist what do you advocate for?
It depends on the issues that are on my heart at the time, but the main themes throughout my life have been Human Rights, Social justice, young people succeeding and doing the most and living out one's gifts or potential in an authentic, service-based and unrestrained manner.
The name of the EP is Lentsoe and it will be available from the 15th of December 2017 on all major digital platforms.
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