The African Leadership University (ALU) Rwanda has won the 5th East African Universities debating Championship (EAUDC) held in Kigali from 1st- 3rd September 2023 aimed at engaging youth in regional integration and holding leaders accountable.
The competition held under the theme “Making Youth the Wheel of the people-led Economic Community” returned to Kigali after it was put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19.
This year’s championship attracted 20 universities from across the East Africa Community (EAC) member states including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, and hosts Rwanda with the latter dominating the number of participating universities.
The championship debate motions or topics were formulated around; Regional peace and security, Regional trade and economic development, Climate Change and Conservation, and Gender Equality within the region.
Four university teams made it to the finals out of eight teams that battled it out (proposing and opposing) on topics which saw four teams emerge in the final round.
The final bout was held on September 3, 2023 between four final teams (Strathmore University – Kenya, United States International University-Africa – Kenya, University of Dar-es-Salaam – Tanzania, and Africa Leadership University (ALU) – Rwanda who debated on the topic of: “the narrative that African youth will deliver the miracle that Africa deserves”.
ALU managed to out-debate the rest to be crowned the champions of the year 2023 walking away with a gold medal and full sponsorship scholarship to the next competition in 2024 after arguing out the other universities on the above topic, showing excellence in presentation skills, knowledge of the subject and language articulation (in English).
The 2nd place was scooped by United States International University-Africa (Kenya) who also got a 50% sponsorship scholarship to the next competition, while the 3rd place was taken by Strathmore University – Kenya.
Prof. Dr. Innocent Nkundabatware, Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Independent University of Kigali (ULK) who officiated the finals said that the competition was more than winning but a learning experience to improve the knowledge of university students in addressing social issues in their respective communities.
“This competition has more than one meaning, it is not just winning but gaining knowledge from one another and an interesting activity to exchange cultures as an EA community. Such competitions broaden the scope of our students and prepare them to become better leaders in the future,” he said.
Nkundabatware said that there is a need to see more universities and more days of the competition to allow students to network, share experiences, and become EAC ambassadors in different countries, especially learning from Rwanda’s experience this year.
For instance, before taking on the debate floor, the university students visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Site in Gisozi on September 3, 2023, where they were given a guided tour of the site, paid homage, laid wreaths on the graves where over 250,000 remains of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Simon Peter Kalisa, the Aspire Debate Rwanda official in charge of Debate Education and competition coordinator said that the debate is aimed at bringing out experience sharing, leadership skills, public speaking and also engaging youth in the people-led EAC integration agenda.
“This requires the youth to have information, and it is through these debates that they get to do deep research on the EAC, its purpose, and its current progress. This way they can take advantage of the available opportunities in the region but also hold leaders accountable,” Kalisa said.
The competition also awarded the five best speakers.
Smart Israel, an ALU Rwanda student said he debated on the proposal side because he believes, beyond the debate, that the youth are key in implementing innovations needed in Africa and rolling out regional and continental trade agreements.