For students Motlalepule Moeleso and Moeketsi Moiketsi, debating comes naturally and has been part of their lives for years - making it easy for them to tackle any topic of global importance.
This probably gave the two first-year students the upper hand when the UWC Debate Union team they represented finished second at the recent Covenant University intervarsity Debating Championships.
The online contest was hosted by the Nigerian-based Covenant University and saw hundreds of speakers from the African continent challenge each other in a British Parliamentary format where four teams of two members each debated for or against a motion. The two UWC debaters individually scored in the top 20, with Moeleso finishing 19th and Moiketsi being named 14th best speaker.
The motions debated in the tournament covered various topics such as economics, business, politics, philosophy, art, wars, mental health, trading, etc. “The most interesting was the final motion: ‘“This house believes that proportional response is not obligatory in asymmetric conflicts’”, Moeleso, a first-year BCom student, revealed. “We represented a closing government and came out second. This was a motion that needed insight about the current war between Palestine and Israel. The tournament was challenging because we were first year students debating against students who have been debating in the British Parliamentary format for years.”
Moiketsi, who is doing his LLB, added that apart from the difficulties of the competition being online, it was rewarding to take part. “I was able to exchange ideas with some of Africa’s greatest minds, and that means a lot to someone who values knowledge like I do. The time zone difference was an issue because we had people who were in Australia and some were in India. This made timing a bit tricky, but the tournament was awesome nonetheless”.
The Free State-born duo said finishing second in the competition was important to them. “This means we have a great partnership, and there is more we can offer,” Moiketsi noted. “We have put ourselves on the map, and this means the UWC debating team has a chance to dominate tournaments this year, and be recognised globally.”
Moeleso echoed his partner’s sentiments: “Although we wanted to win, this means we are getting closer to being known as a formidable duo in both the national and international circuits. It is efforts like these that create a name for the union and the institution in debating and that is something I’m proud to be part of.”
Marylyn Nomhle Ndlela, the chief adjudicator for the UWC Debating Union, congratulated the two and said that they had been looking to get recognition as a small organisation. “For us, this success is a stepping stone in the right direction to make an impact in the debating sphere and around the world. I am very proud of the way the boys performed in the tournament because they have motivated and paved the way for the rest of the novice speakers in our union. The future of the union looks bright at this point and this is only the beginning”.