DR. NABANEH SHARES HER UTG STORY

MY FIRST IMPRESSION OF UTG

My first impression of UTG was generally a positive one. I was filled with excitement especially when I first stepped foot in the Law Faculty premises, which used to be the Gambia Printing and Publishing Corporation (GPPC) Annex. I was proud to be in the second batch of a then very young Faculty of Law knowing that I was on a path ‘less travelled by’ but one which would be life changing, interesting and challenging.

Despite very limited resources and less than ideal circumstances (with no law library), I was equally impressed with how efficient the admin staff were and how knowledgeable the mostly “adjunct” lecturers were in their areas of specialization and competencies, coming in from the “professional” world and able to bring together principles and theories.

WHAT MOTIVATED ME TO ENROL AT THE FACULTY OF LAW?

In some ways, I was better prepared for the experience. Given that I have spent majority of my time in the activism space, studying law seemed a natural progression. I have always wanted to study something that gave me the space to talk and engage, to impact lives and contribute to the successes of others. Ultimately, the Faculty of Law built my passion for knowledge and learning. 

 
MY FOUR YEARS’ EXPERIENCE AT THE UTG?

My time at UTG was memorable and I enjoyed it for the most part. As far as classes and study were concerned, I enjoyed learning about the law, and I think I learned a great deal from my lecturers and the textbooks. I was able to develop analytical and logical reasoning skills, critical thinking and reading skills and strategies I was also able to participate in extracurricular activities that further strengthened my speaking/arguing skills, and one which had a lasting impact on my public speaking ability was the Moot Court. I was part of the team that represented UTG at the 20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which was held at the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2011.

This was an amazing experience and a unique opportunity as the Moot Court Competition is the largest annual gathering on the continent of students and lecturers of law. We were also able to attend a one-day training workshop on human rights in Africa and toured few places.
I definitely have some fond memories, made some good lifelong friends and met some incredible mentors.

MY JOURNEY AFTER MY LLB AT UTG

Before completing the LLB, I was accepted into the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) programme at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria with a full scholarship. This was a dream come true as it was in line with my area of passion. With the strong support of the then Inaugural Dean of the Faculty, Prof Senghore, I was able to complete my LLB and started the LLM programme as the youngest in 2012. Upon my return at the end of the year, I achieved some firsts: first alumna with an LLM and first alumna to be appointed as a Full-Time Lecturer in the Faculty.

Subsequently, I undertook a doctoral degree at the Centre forHuman Rights and recently graduated on 1 October 2020 with a Doctor of Laws (LLD). Again, as the first alumna of the Faculty of Law to bag a doctorate in law, not only speaks to my academic trailblazing journey but it also generally reflects an unfolding of the vision for the setting up of the Faculty. The reorganization and subsequent rapid progress of the Faculty of Law was also part and parcel of the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kah’s restructuring and reform programme of the UTG.
I take this opportunity to celebrate and salute my former classmates, especially the pioneer alumni of the Faculty who are accomplishing great feats in their various endeavours. 

The LLB programme at UTG provided a solid base necessary for my Master’s and Doctoral education journeys as well as giving a 23-year-old her first academic job which prepared me to chart out the kind of career I had always wanted, which is not the typical legal career. And I have immensely enjoyed that outbound journey with its ups and downs, the experiences of a life time.

MY ADVICE TO UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE STUDENTS

Build a support network, of those who believe in you and your dreams. Expand your knowledge and scope beyond the classroom. Get support from people outside of the university, including friends and mentors who can hold you accountable. Utilising both professional and personal network is important. It is also vital to develop excellent writing skills. Develop the ability and confidence to write critically. Engage in extracurricular activities. But above all have values and principles and live by them. Credibility, character, and integrity are the hallmarks of a decent human being.

For studying law, I highly recommend the Faculty of Law for people who are not just interested in a legal career. There are a wide variety of career choices given the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the law. Whether you want to contribute to knowledge production, fight against injustice, work in profitable practice; your skills and services will always be needed.
More importantly, enjoy the journey, believe in yourself and in your dreams!