Chasing your dreams

Windhoek-based legal practitioner Esi Schimming-Chase was appointed as an acting judge of the High Court from 1 October to 15 December.

11 December 2020 | People

Monique Adams





In the 21st century, everyone lives a fast-paced life, but Esi Schimming-Chase believes that slowing down and centring yourself are very important.

Schimming-Chase likes starting off her day by meditating or praying.

“I always try to remind myself what I’m grateful for and give thanks for the little things like breathing or being able to use all five of my fingers. I also try to keep fit and exercise four times a week, whether it’s walking or functional training,” she said.

Her mother, Nora Schimming-Chase, was a Namibian refugee living in Berlin, who then married a doctor from St Lucia in the Caribbean.

In 1974, the family moved to Tanzania and lived there for about four years. When it was safer for her mother to return to Namibia, Schimming-Chase opted to stay with her father in St Lucia and moved back to Namibia with her mother in 1982.

She attended St Paul’s College and in January 1987, her mother got a job at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Schimming-Chase and her sister then moved to Switzerland where she finished high school.

She completed one year of her tertiary education in Switzerland at the University of Montreux and then moved to the United Kingdom to pursue her honours degree in law at the Coventry University.

Private practice

Schimming-Chase qualified as a barrister in October 1994 and has been in the trade for 18 years.

In her private practice, she served as senior counsel, which is a title given to a senior advocate who has practiced for a minimum of 15 years in recognition of their contribution to the legal profession.

In the future, Schimming-Chase hopes to serve as a judge.

In 1999, she abandoned practicing law and worked in the events management, broadcasting and entertainment sphere. She acted as an anchor on Namibia Broadcasting Company, presented the Tutaleni show for a while and hosted her own show called ‘Frankly Speaking’.

“The year 2001, I returned to law and by then everyone I knew was established as a legal practitioner and there wasn’t a differentiation between an advocate and an attorney any more. I retook my bar exam, which is an examination administered by the bar association of a jurisdiction that a lawyer must pass in order to be admitted to the bar of that jurisdiction. I passed and went for training at the Society of Advocates,” she said.

Accomplishments

One of her many accomplishments is becoming the first black female senior counsel to become an acting judge in 2011. “Law in general is very challenging because the more one gains experience and the more you learn, the more you realise that you don’t know as much as you thought,” she added.

“When I first started practicing law, it was a very white male-dominant environment and I constantly defended myself as I would be ignored or patronised by my peers. I always had to fight for myself and my position,” she said.

Growing up, her parents encouraged her and her siblings to speak their minds and today she strongly believes in standing up for yourself and speaking your mind without fear of judgement.

Wanderlust

One of the things she loves doing is travelling. “One thing the lockdown has shown us all is how beautiful Namibia is. We are extremely blessed to have such an amazing and peaceful country. Lodge-hopping is what I’m planning to pursue next,” she said.

Even though her profession is serious and takes up lots of her time, she hopes to explore more of her creative and artistic side.

Schimming-Chase advises young people to be kind to themselves and lives by a quote by her late mother that says “you are enough and you are okay where you are”. “You don’t need to over-exert yourself trying to be the best by competing with everyone and everything. Be competent and utilise what you are good at,” she said.

Five facts about Schimming-Chase:

She loves to dance and is always the last one to leave the dance floor.

She has a true passion for music.

She is the eldest of her mother’s three children.

She is the comedian in the family and enjoys making people laugh.

She’s very good with hair, especially natural hair. She’s the hairdresser in the family and finds doing someone’s hair very therapeutic.

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