Saturday, February 24, 2024

Historical moment for Botswana in the “Olympics of debate”

Recently, Botswana successfully hosted what has been termed as the ‘Olympics of debating’, otherwise referred to as the World Debate competition.

With well over 2OO universities from across the world in attendance, including prestigious ones like Princeton and Oxford Universities, at the University of Botswana, Botswana became the first institution in Africa to hold an event of this magnitude.

Monarch University of Australia walked away as the champions of this year‘s competition.
However, Botswana did not fare well at the end of the competition, barely making it to the finals due to the immense competition provided by their more experienced competitors.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Organiser and Chair of the World Debates competition, Justice Motlhabani, was quick to point out that they expected nothing less than what they achieved because debate in Botswana is clearly still in its “infancy stages”. He said that most of the other schools had an advantage over them because of the exposure to other international forums of debate and the experts involved in their training.

However, Team Botswana stood its ground as it managed to secure position two in two rounds.
“In terms of training, we have a long way to go because we don’t even have experienced coaches and we don’t attend pre-worlds competitions. If we are to improve in our debating style then we need to change this. Proper training is key to our development,” said Motlhabani.

He said that the competition has been to all the continents in the world but it had been held in most European countries.

The competition, which is in its 31st year, is an annual event that was predominant in white schools. He explained that the reason the event was held over the holidays was because it was the only time of the year that major universities worldwide are closed and were in a better position to attend.

Some local service providers sponsored the event with cash, motions, as well as commodities.

Mascom gave away 1200 free sim cards to the attendants, which, in the end, turned in profits for them as the international students were making overseas calls. It also donated P10 000 pula to the organisers.

Books Botswana was responsible for the branding of the venue as well as the tournament as a whole.
Debswana presented a motion on diamonds, while BOTA presented one on its mandate and BEC presented a motion on education.

The British Council and the Botswana Development Corporation both donated P10┬á000, while Brand Botswana sponsored a night of artists showcasing Botswana’s talent.

The biggest donor had to be the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, which poured in P550 000.
“During the event, we had challenges that were beyond our control, such as transport problems, where we couldn’t secure flights for those travelling to Botswana because the flights were fully booked and those that were free could not transport a thousand people, but we managed to make it work. We think that the whole tournament as a whole was a success,” said Motlhabani.


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