Rhini-power puts local debaters on a strong footing


Forty Makhanda debaters in a formidable Makana and Ndlambe schools squad are among around 600 pupils from across the Eastern Cape who have since Friday been locked in debate – literally. The 2019 Eastern Cape Schools Provincial Debating Championship, hosted by Kingswood College, will have its finals Sunday afternoon 21 July. Debaters will know early Sunday morning whether they’ve made it through tonight’s hotly fought quarter-finals to Sunday’s semis.

Four debating leagues are taking part alongside the Rhini (Makhanda/ Port Alfred) league. They are Port Elizabeth-Uitenhage, Border, Mthatha and Lukhanji.

The Juniors (Grades 8-10) will be seeking to unseat last year’s winners, Kingsridge High, the girls’ school from up the road in King William’s Town. East London’s Merrifield are the 2018 Senior champions.

The debaters have prepared motions for rounds 2 and 4. For the Seniors, they are “This House believes that Western countries should cease providing aid to Saudi Arabia” and “This House rejects the commercialisation of Gay Pride”.

The Junior debaters explore “This House believes that developing countries should hold the Catholic Church financially liable for the medical expenses of Aids victims in areas where the church campaigns against condom use” and “This House will delete their social media account”. Last night, surprise motions were thrown at the young debaters in the quarter-finals to test their impromptu skills.

Forty debaters have been selected from six Makhanda (Grahamstown) schools to face learners from across the Eastern Cape in a Provincial tournament being hosted at Kingswood College this weekend. A first for the district is that each Rhini debating team competing will be made up of learners from various local schools, presenting a diverse and formidable squad.

Learners from Ntsika Secondary School, Diocesan School for Girls, Graeme College, Kingswood College, Port Alfred High School, St Andrew’s College and Victoria Girls’ High School are among those who have been honing their skills on Friday nights, in a series of debates hosted by various Makhanda (Grahamstown) schools as part of the Rhini Debating League.

The result – along with the skills and confidence they’ve gained, and friends they’ve made – is the selection of  25 Senior and 15 Junior debaters from those schools to represent the district in the Provincial Debating Competition over three days, from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July.

Michele Barnard and Carmen Brandt, who coach the Ntsika Secondary School debaters, said the inter-schools make-up of the teams was significant.

“In the past, whole teams [i.e. from individual schools] would qualify to attend the provincial tournament, but this year learners have been chosen based on individual performance,” Brandt said. “They will therefore combine with learners from other schools to form new teams that will compete against other schools from the Eastern Cape who have qualified for the tournament.

“This new system allows for more diversity and means that our teams will be made up of consistently strong speakers.”

Ntsika has six learners in the Senior squad (grades 10-12) and three in the Junior line-up (grades 7-9).

Rhodes University students Emma Jane Spencer and Keagan Pretorius are Chief Adjudicator and Eastern Cape Schools Debating Board Chairperson respectively.

Sunday 21 July will see a third day of this intensive form of formal debate. The finals for the Juniors are at midday, Seniors at 1.30pm.

Rhini Debating League Selection (listed alphabetically by first names)

Asimo Nunu (Ntsika); Chris McCune (Kingswood); Daniel Bradfield (SAC); Hloni Nongawuza (Ntsika); Indiphile Ralo (Graeme); James Stadler (SAC); Jemima Braum (DSG); Kristen Wehr (VG); Libo Ngwenya (DSG); Lindelihle Manyati (Ntsika); Liyema Titi (Kingswood); Luthando Singato (Ntsika); Michael Velloza (SAC); Nqobile Bala (Graeme); Philip Beynon (SAC); Retshi Lesaro (Ntsika); Sarah Wilhelmi (Kingswood); Sinomtha Poya (Kingswood); Siwe Mhlekwa (VG); Siyamthanda Ngesi (Ntsika); Tayla Barret (DSG); Tsepo Ponoane (Kingwood); Umtha Sibam (DSG); Wothando Funani (Graeme); Yolisa Bobo (Port Alfred).

Alex Oosthuizen (Graeme); Alizwa Gushu (Graeme); Athandile Mbutye (Ntsika); Braam du Toit (Graeme); Estelle Minas (DSG); Faith Rautenbach (Kingswood); Lara Pinheiro-Figueira (Kingswood); Liyema Mani (Ntsika); Lulo Mfaba (SAC); Max Western (Graeme); Natasha Chibira (Ntsika); Nikita Xhanti (DSG); Siminkiwe Mabece (Port Alfred); Taryn Brown (Kingswood); Wafa Rizu (VG).

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