Tuesday May 29 2018

The Art of Debate

Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he’s talking about.” – Sam Ewig

The Junior Debate Teams

Anticipation pulls at the seams of silence, as each debater analyses the opponent’s argument, carefully dissecting it and contemplating their next statement in a battle of wit, word and watchfulness.

Debating can be a very intense activity: you usually have a speaker up at a podium, yelling their heart out with facts (and sometimes fiction, given that the opposition doesn’t catch on to the lies) as they try to convince the judges that they should win – yes, very intense. 

On a more serious note, it is a powerful activity that alerts people (and in our case – teenagers) to real-world events, topics and problems. It has no prerequisite. It requires no more than your undying commitment and ability to self-improve, with everything else being able to be picked up like dust on a sweaty day. 

Now enough with the shameless advertisement and on with the article:

During the 18th and 19th of May, ATS (the Association of Trust Schools) held an inter-schools debate tournament comprising of seventeen schools each vying for argumentative supremacy, including (but not limited to) the College (obviously), Arundel School, Christian Brothers College (otherwise known as CBC), Dominican Convent, Girls’ College (the hosts have to participate of course), Lomagundi School, and Kyle College. It was hosted by Girls’ College (and fine hosts they were), as well being sponsored by First Mutual.

Hundreds of speakers hailing from all over the country assembled for the simply yet complicated (and no, that’s not an oxymoron, it’s a complement-ative truth) ‘art of debate’, all waiting for the life-defining motions. 

‘What are motions?’ You say. Well these are the ‘topics’ that are given to debate teams to research on and build arguments upon, usually they have two contrasting sides – Affirmative and Non-Affirmative (or side Proposition and Opposition, for you who are linguistically harmonic). The arguments for both sides must clash, unless you see both extremes as well, extreme, then you may choose a more moderate approach. Then there are the “impromptus” – totally random, totally mind-cracking, totally hastily prepared – these are motions given to debate teams with no prior time for preparation except for the totally heart-racing fifteen to thirty minutes they give you. 

The event itself was exceptional, with the different speakers who each had their own style of debating, laying down their points (whether they be weak or strong) and hammering them down with even more (putting their foundation points to the test). Some arguments stood tall, while others fell away as counter-arguments struck them down, with the very moderate arguments shaken but still managing to hold on. 

Now, as for the College junior debate team which attended the ATS tournament, it was a halfway slit, with two glorious wins – a prepared motion and an impromptu – and two agonizing but revelating losses – another prepared motion and another impromptu. Key speakers of the College debate team were Gamuchirai Munyaka and Mazvita Takuva who both tied as third best speakers out of over 70 speakers. 

Fun Fact: A unique and extraordinarily aspect of the entire tournament was that girls – future women leaders of the world – made up more than half of the speakers at the event, signalling a rise – a spark, if you may, of the increasing influence women and girls are having in the world, with a girl capstone-ing it all by becoming the winner of the tournament. 

All in all, it was a beautiful tournament, scoping the rise of Zimbabwe’s teenagers as they seek to make a better Africa. 

By Kundai-Karl Mpame