As J. Michael Strazynski, an American author and filmmaker put it, “A good story should provoke discussion, debate, argument and the occasional bar fight.”
A probable question would be, “Do writers also debate?”
Well, there’s a gratifying answer to that.
The fifth day of February saw two Writers Space Africa’s (WSA) Uganda and Lesotho chapters from the East and South of Africa respectively stage a virtual, friendly debate.
The motion was “This house believes that climate change is a hoax”.
Each country was represented by 3 speakers.
The six debaters: Mwebembezi Ronald (Uganda), Neo Matheka (Lesotho), Mosa Mojonothoane (Lesotho), Kageha Faith (Uganda), Ntsie Phetoane (Lesotho) and Barungi Joy Hannah (Uganda) formed two mixed teams.
This was intended to allow members to network, intellectually exchange and discuss climate change as a salient, crosscutting, continental and global phenomena.
The debate was hosted by Mugisha Cohens, a passionate teacher, debate coach and programs manager of WSA Uganda along with Bohlokoa “Ginger” Lephoi – a poet and filmmaker from WSA-Lesotho.
A panel of three, chaired by Nnane Ntube from Cameroon, Elizabeth Akunyili from Nigeria and Baryamujura Mahad from Uganda, judged the debate.
From the verdict and feedback, the panel was thrilled by the quality of debate, constructive argumentation and the intellectual and speech prowess exhibited by the debaters as they discussed the motion with well researched content.
Throughout the heated debate, the debaters highlighted on the uncontrolled human activity, exclusive and redundant environmental policies and laws, insufficient relevant data and politicization of climate issues as predominant barriers to combating climate change and its effects.
Like any debate should propose remedies or resolutions, debaters emphatically stressed the need for leaders and citizenry to treat climate issues with urgency and consciousness, just like it has been with the Covid-19 pandemic.
This should be done by elevating voices of advocacy on environmental protection and activism through vehicles like debates as well as investing in indigenous research and data to enable commensurate adaptation and mitigation planning.
Omadang Yowasi and Heidy Motanyane delivered appreciation and congratulatory speeches on behalf of WSA-Ug and WSA-L respectively.
Both envoys pledged to continue holding activities of the kind with other chapters for greater and sweeter fruits.
The event was crowned with a thrilling yet intriguing keynote speech by Anthony Onugba from Nigeria.
Onugba is an author, Founder and Executive Director Africa Writers Development Trust and Writers Space Africa.
“Climate change is not like a fever. You can’t easily tell who is infected; people may continue dying of hunger because we are not doing something to stop it.
Climate change is like Covid-19, it’s real but the politics around it makes it appear a hoax rather than the reality it is,” Onugba noted.
He was also enthused by the great minds and voices.
“We can organize for continental events and awards like we do for writers. We can do regional, continental and even international debate contests,” the author said.
He implored the attendees to revive and uphold the debate culture in Africa as a tool for change and advocacy on top of using pen and paper.
The author’s contact is email@example.com
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