As The Pan-African Universities Debating Championship (PAUDC) drew nearer and nearer, all universities across the African continent sent their best teams to represent the respective institutions at the highly esteemed Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) – Ghana, where the tournament would be held in one of the big and well “under construction” city known as Kumasi.
In its 2019 instalment, the annual festival of knowledge and critical thinking that is PAUDC saw the brandishing of flags from 16 African Countries whose universities were represented, featuring Nigeria, Togo and Liberia from the West; Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda from the east; Cameroon from Central Africa; and from the southern region were Botswana, Zimbabwe and our very own South Africa.
Durban University of Technology (DUT) was represented by a team of nine; that is Thabiso Gumede, Emmanuel Mangalibi, Minoko Edoka Chris, Thulebona Mzimela, Xola Sibisi and Kwandile Mncube who were debating, and the remaining three Simphiwe Ngcobo, Sphephile Masondo and Ntuthuko Mchunu who participated as adjudicators.
THE GHANAIAN EXPERIENCE!
PAUDC presents unprecedented opportunities such as building and expanding ones network as everybody gets an opportunity to mingle during social events. At the cultural event one gets the opportunity to experience and celebrate other African cultures as all African countries rock up the event in their different traditional attires and share traditional foods while promoting cohesion. As the saying goes “the fondest memories are made when gathered around the table”.
The benefits derived from the tournament differ from one category of participants to the other, i.e. the benefits acquired as an adjudicator for example may largely differ from those obtained as a debater. Let’s look closely at some of the benefits for each scenario …..
Adjudicators: They are expected to have a detailed and conversant understanding of the procedure of adjudication and to have sufficient knowledge of the general subject matter of the dispute to be able to identify the relevance of all matters before them. Furthermore, adjudicators are expected to be prepared to carry out the function of adjudicator timeously. Some of the skills obtainable through adjudicating are, to mention a few; the ability to identify key issues of the dispute, time management, the ability to provide clear reasoning, being able to produce an enforceable decision, and to ensure fairness in the process.
Debaters: Research has proven that engaging in the debating sport comes with numerous benefits. From planning your argument (even if you don’t agree with it in principle) to choosing your words sagaciously, debating will help you take on whatever life chooses to throw at you. It teaches the skills of researching, organizing, critical thinking, presenting information in a compelling fashion and last but certainly not least, it harnesses teamwork as an integral element for achieving a collective goal. In addition, through debate, participants acquire unique educational benefits as they learn and polish skills far beyond what can be learnt in any other setting.
After 3 days and 9 rounds, the championship’s debating segment saw the host take the win in a fiery final round that debated the right to information in a scenario where an intercontinental missile was headed for Accra and the house, as a public servant only had 15 minutes before impact to take action, if any. The public speaking competition on the other hand was no less intense. Minoko Edoka Chris representing DUT pierced through the thick bricks of the contest reaching semi-finals but yielded as Dominic Dominic from the Nigerian University of Lagos took the Public Speaking trophy.
As is every year, PAUDC 2019, beyond being an exercise in problem solving through verbal deliberation, was an opportunity to explore the beautiful continent, its landscape, its cultures and the wonderful people that make up its wealth. In returning to their homes, the young Africans did not only take memories of fun socials, tricky economic related debate motions, scenic heights of the Canopy walk and the artistic souvenirs acquired at Cape Coast, but they also took with them a thirst to return for another season of debating bliss as they patiently await PAUDC 2020 to be held in beautiful Botswana while promoting and passing on the love of debating to many more.