Radio talk show host Eusebius McKaiser reassured students at the launch of a debate competition that there was no shame in admitting you don’t know something. McKaiser was speaking at the launch of UCKAR’s first inter-residence debate competition on 4 May 2018.
“You don’t have to have a viewpoint on everything. Embrace your ignorance,” said McKaiser.
The former World Master Debate Competition Champion said the real problem was narrow-mindedness. “I think if there’s one thing that debaters get wrong it’s a lack of curiosity about what other people think and I don’t think it’s a good thing,” he said.
After listening to McKaiser’s comments, law student Tonthozo Saukila said she wished she had taken debate earlier in life. “For a debater it’s probably very insightful and I think it was applicable to the outside world as well,” said Saukila. “I liked that. I didn’t feel like I was out of my depth coming here.”
McKaiser who is a Grahamstown native and UCKAR alumnus was impressed with the students’ eagerness to have robust discussion. “Students coming out on a Friday night for intellectual engagement is an amazing thing,” he said.
He encouraged students to relate their discussions to real life events.
“[UCKAR] students must locate more of their debates within the material facts about the country and not just their theoretical debates,” McKaiser told The Oppidan Press.
There is a lot that can be gained from participating. “Debating is good for the collective consciousness of the university,” said Zuko Cawe a member of the UCKAR debating society.
The theme of the competition is the power of the word, according to the event organiser Nangamso Myoli. “We’re just trying to get students talking about [important] issues… that people are too afraid to talk about or they just let it fester,” said Myoli. The debates will tackle issues such as sexuality, rape, patriarchy and race.
The event was a success. “I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve which is to get more people to sign up for the inter-res debating,” said Londiwe Mntambo who participated in the mock debate.
The debate competition is hosted by the office of Equity and Institutional Culture (EIC). “Our job as a department is to help bring about transformation within the university. We tackle it in different ways, this time we’re working with students,” said Myoli.
Teams from each residence will compete against other residences from the same hall until only one team is representing each hall. Only two teams will make it to the finals. The winner will get a trophy for their residence. They will also win a trip to the World University Championship Debate in Cape Town.
EIC will host competitions every Tuesday from July until September.
Words by Xiletelo Mabasa