Lebo Mashile encourages students to establish creative communities

The poet was speaking at the launch of the Inter-res debate competition

Performance poet, Lebo Mashile told students at USKAR on 21 March 2019, that the youth should consider decolonial thought in pursuing a just future. Decolonisation refers to the practice of removing colonial influence from formerly colonised lands and people. To some extent it also involves tackling neo-colonialism.

The award-winning author was a guest speaker at the launch of the second annual USKAR Inter-Res Debate Competition at Eden Grove. Mashile said the best way to go about it was by  “creating solidarity with people that are also doing similar work.”

Mashile believes today’s youth are the best suited for combating what she called “the new scramble for Africa”.“You are probably the most important generation to walk the face of the earth on this continent in a very long time,” she told the students. She also emphasised the importance of rewriting a history that “is filled with blanks”.

Chairperson of the Debating Society, Zuko Cawe said having the launch on Sharpeville Day was a deliberate decision. “I think it’s important to host events that speak to discourse on days that promote discourse,” Cawe said. “It’s a day that invokes memory that invokes the espousal of certain narratives and it’s very important to then have debates that are about narratives.”

Oyisa Katshaza is a debater who was on the winning team that competed in the World University Debating Competition held in Cape Town last year. Katshaza believes competing can be very beneficial.

“What debating does is that it forces you to have conversations you would otherwise not have in an ordinary context,” Katshaza said. “Saying things that are contrary to what you think…is somewhat an uncomfortable job to do.”

The event was organised by the Equity and Institutional Culture office (EIC) in partnership with the USKAR debating society. EIC director, Noluxolo Nhlapo said the aim of the project was to show people how to have fruitful conversations.

EIC director, Noluxolo Nhlapo explaining the importance of constructive conversations

“We want to encourage people to develop the art of debating issues rather than not being able to disagree,” Nhlapo said. “Increasingly people find it difficult to disagree and still remain friends and remain in communication. Debate enables that to happen and people who are debaters have that

With the competition now in its second year, organisers were working to improve their delivery. “The only negative feedback that we got is that the people who wanted to participate had not had training in debating,” Nhlapo explained. “This year we’re trying very hard to provide coaching for those individuals who want to participate who have not had the] training that  people [who]come from schools that have debating have [received].”