By Kadijah Fofana
In yet another display of academic excellence and oratorical brilliance, Debate Gambia (DeGa) held its Masters Round Championship Sunday June 10, 2017. Held at the Faculty of Law Complex of the University of The Gambia, the event attracted students, and dignitaries as well as sponsors.
This year’s edition was held with the theme: ‘Significance of debate and public speaking in making the New Gambia a reality.’
Debate Gambia is an organization established in 2014 with the aim of promoting debate and public speaking.
The President of the organization, Omar Ceesay, said since inception, they have been involved in organizing debates and debate related activities. He said the Masters Round Championship started last year with the aim of engaging the tertiary institutions in The Gambia to talk about issues of national concerns and also engage them in constructive dialogue through critical thinking.
The President Ceesay lamented challenges of funding and therefore called on partners to support debate as it is very crucial for national development.
Delivery the Keynote Speech, Jainaba Teeda Sarr, emphasized the need for debate in our bid to build New Gambia. She stated:
“Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate the members of Debate Gambia for creating this all too important platform and for their tenacity in seeing it through year after year despite the many challenges. I stand before you to make a case for debate and public speaking in realizing the New Gambia. In doing so I would like to begin with some historical backing by citing strong evidence of debates as an integral part of our traditional African political systems.
“My junior independent thesis as an undergraduate political science student, led me to some findings about the “Kgotla system” of the Southern African people of Botswana. This is a traditional system of conflict resolution and peace-building based on dialogue and debate which to this day informs the government of modern Botswana.”
She further asserted that now more than ever before, the country need a leveled, non-discriminatory public platform for self-expression and dialogue to shape our nation’s future.
“We need it first of all, as a fire-fighting system to temper our emotions which are currently reeling high from the embers of our revolutionary change in government,” she added.
Picture: Guest Speaker awarding a certificate to a participant
She said public discourse helps to keep reminding us that in spite of whatever differing political positions we hold, we achieved a rare feat in that we rose out of one of our darkest moments as a people at the brink of catastrophic violence in one piece and in peace!
“This is a feat worthy of pride and as one BBC article put it, something a much bigger nation could learn from. As we feel the growing pains of a new republic, we need public discourse to keep the peace! This is not a luxury it is a necessity!”
The debate motion was: NAWEC should be Privatized.
The team speaking against the motion “Cherno Gaye and Mariama Danso (UTG)” were crowned champions.
At the end of the contest, the following winners were awarded trophies and other prizes. Best Debater Modou Lamin Jarjusey, 2nd best speaker Mariama Danso, 3rd Best Speaker Cherno Gaye, Most promising team (Jariga E.Gaye and Santigie muhamed kandeh), Most promising Debater Omar Camara, Most disciplined debater Ebrima Jorbateh, Best Adjudicator Fanta Fofana, Most promising Adjudicator Haddy Cham, and Most outstanding institutions are UTG and Gambia college.
The main sponsor of the competition, Former Presidential Affairs Minister and Youth Empowerment Expert, Momodou Sabally, sponsored a special prize (trophy) in honor of his late mother; the “Aja Kaddy Jammeh Prize for Best Female Debater” which was awarded to Mariama Danso.
Other speakers at the event were Mustapha Kah, Founder of Debate Gambia, and former Higher Education Minister Professor Aboubacarr Senghore.
Picture: Speaker Sarr, Momodou Sabally and President Ceesay