Team Swaziland surprises all at World Schools Debating Championships, Turkey 2013

What started with Thato Makgolane (WK 05-06) coaching debating on Fridays in the Emhlabeni Old Library at 4pm to a group of rowdy Form 1’s has turned out to be the biggest upset in the world debate circles.

Had you watched their first formal debate against Holy Family College in South Africa, you would have been forgiven for thinking that not much would come out of it. However, when Makhosonkhe Nsibandze (WK 02-08) discovered the World Schools Debating Championships and Emma Baxendale and Lisa Mbuli took over debating, a new wave of energy and excitement for the possible journey ahead reignited the spirit of debating around the school and two of Thato’s little prodigies went on to represent Swaziland in the World Schools Debating Championships.

African Schools Debating championships

The year 2009 saw the formation of the first official Swaziland National Debate team and in 2010 their first participation in an internationally recognized tournament. The African Schools Debating Championships in South Africa, August 2010, saw students from Waterford Kamhlaba participate as members of the National team: Fanele Mashwama (ranked 5th), Tengetile Tezzy Nhlengethwa (ranked 6th), Michelle Vilakati and Msimisi Sithole from Sifundzani High School. This culminated in Swaziland qualifying for the final at the Pan African Parliament against champions South Africa in a THW partition countries plagued with ethical violence motion. Swaziland was the runner up.

World Schools Debate Championships 2012

Enthused by their success in ASDC, nervous, excited and hoping for at least one win, the debate team participated in World Schools Debate Championships for the first time. The team comprised of Tengetile Tezzy Nhlengethwa, Fanele Mashwama, Michelle Vilakati and new members Junior JS Ndlovu (WK 11-12) and Oliver Havelock Mills (WK 07-13). They went up against Bangladesh, Qatar, Czech Republic, India, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand and Nigeria. 4 wins and 4 losses meant that the team was unable to break, however they won Best new team with Fanele, Oliver and Tengetile being the top three new speakers in the tournament. Swaziland was labeled the ‘team to look out for’ at the next worlds tournament especially after winning against Netherlands who were ranked 7th (2-1) and managing a split loss (1-2) against New Zealand ranked 3rd.

                “As a school we are proud and privileged to have been involved in debating in Swaziland. It is an honor to have so many Waterford students included in the team. We congratulate Mlungisi Dlamini on the excellent work he has done and hope to see him take Swaziland debating to even greater heights” Ms Lisa Mbuli, IGCSE Coordinator and Waterford Debate Coach.

teamsd 2012

World Schools Debate Championships 2013

Antalya, Turkey was the host of the 2013 debate championships. After recruiting new members to replace the ones that had grown up too quickly, Sivuse Mbingo, Lindelani Mabuza, Wabantu Hlophe (WK 07-13) and Sandile Mndzebele complemented Oliver and Fanele. After a 2-1 defeat in the first round to 2011 champions Singapore, the ‘hungry’ team went on to win the next 7 preliminary debates including a 3-0 sweep against 2012 champions Scotland. Swaziland was the 2nd team to break with a speaker score average of 72.76 second to Australia’s 73.19 with 7 wins and 21 ballots. The octo-finals saw them face off against Greece and have a 5-0 victory over them, Mexico and Singapore lost out on 4-3 splits and Swaziland went on to be a second time participant and first time finalist against 8 time champions Australia. Although the motion stood on Australia's side at the end of the debate it was another astonishing achievement to have Fanele Mashwama be named the second best speaker of the whole tournament.

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“Considering they were ranked 28th when entering the competition, I am delighted that the Swaziland Team has been able to achieve so much success after their second participation at WSDC” Acting Principal, Bruce Wells.

“I wish I went to Turkey, I won’t lie. Fanele and I started debating together in Form 1 and have been on this rollercoaster journey together, we were in WSDC 2012 with Oliver. Although I am sad to not have been part of this team, I am humbled by how they have been able to make us proud, not just as fellow debaters but as an entire Swazi Nation” Tengetile Tezzy Nhlengethwa (WK 06-12)

The hope is that after this long journey to the top of the world, Swaziland debating can continue to grow to new heights and be able to continue to inspire other people, especially those in the rural parts of Swaziland, to join debating. 

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