The USIU-Africa Spoken Arts & Debate Society (SADS) soars virtually amid COVID-19

By Precious Wangu

2020 has been the most challenging year for all the university students’ clubs globally, and the USIU-Africa Spoken Arts & Debate Society (SADS) was not exempt from the disruptive nature of the outlined activities for the year. The Society’s leadership together with its members quickly saw opportunity to explore, to be more innovative and to embrace technology and today as we publish our last article of the year, we can truly say, WE DID IT!

SADS remained the most active club during the pandemic with active student membership and online participation, with its various activities and events taking place online with the utmost goal of growing the club’s membership in speaking, creative and critical thinking skills. Each branch of the Society, from Debate, Public Speaking and Spoken Arts, held a unique introductory session for all new members, welcoming them to the Society and equipping them with the fundamental knowledge and skills they needed in order to build reap maximum growth from our activities and events.

Led by Jeremiah Kashaka (SADS Logistics Officer) and Precious Wangu (SADS Executive Secretary), the Spoken Arts branch has held biweekly activities that have enhanced the members’ creativity, critical thinking and presentation skills. Members went through sessions like ‘Realizing my source of inspiration’, which entailed discussions on personal interests, sources of motivation and being in a state of flow, enabled the members discover their unique sources of inspiration. The session helped members come up with rhyming lyrics and lines, which helped them in the composition of poems, songs and spoken word.

These trainings culminated in an event, the Poetry Slam 2.0, which was held on Friday, November 27, 2020, and brought students from all over Africa to perform spoken word pieces, poems and songs. The event was hosted by Jeremiah and Precious, with Effie Okolla from Strathmore University attending as a guest speaker.

The Public Speaking team also had similar biweekly events, such as ‘How to become a public speaker’, in which attendees were taken through the basic elements of public speaking, various forms of public speaking, elements of a good public speaker and how to manage speech anxiety. Grace Kinyua had a training session with the members as well on the elements of a good speech, in which she discussed at length the purpose of a speech, developing the topic, investigating the subject, structuring the message and converting the message for oral presentation. Two of the major events from this branch included:

A Call to War, where members had to apply the skills they had previously learnt to come up with speeches encouraging a target audience toward a certain course of action. The activity focused on tonal variation, empathy when communicating, voice projection and owning your speech.

Recite Your Piece, a viewing and critiquing session where members presented monologues from different artists and actors and critiqued them as a group. In this session members presented monologues and speeches by their favorite actors from various movies. They analyzed the method of speech delivery, the power of a speech and how to analyze and engage with one’s audience.

The Debate team, led by Chantelle Mukabi (SADS Chair) and Kagia Samuel (SADS Vice-Chair) – has been able to flourish throughout the semester with weekly debate training sessions held to continually train and engage debaters. This semester, the Society’s debaters have represented the university at various online global debate tournaments, including the Pretoria Parley Intervarsity Debate Championships (PPIV), African Intervarsity Debate Championships, Jozi to Accra Debate Championships, Brand Arguments International Debate Tournament (BAIDT), and African Nations Invitational Debate Championships, managing to be among the top speakers at these tournaments as well as Semi-Finalists.

SADS also hosted the final tournament of the In-House Debate Series (which began in the Spring Semester, and ran from January to April), the In-House 4.0 Debate Championships held from November 2 to November 8, 2020 in which SADS members managed to top the leaderboard as well as become partial semi-finalists, semi-finalists and finalists as well as winners of the tournament. Currently, the SADS debate team is training for the imminent Pan African Universities Debate Championships (PAUDC) – an annual high-level debate tournament hosted in a different African country each year, and will now be held online. Beginning on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, USIU-Africa will be represented for the first time ever in the week-long PAUDC tournament, and the following teams have been selected to participate:

  1. Chantelle Mukabi (SADS Chair) & Kagia Samuel (SADS Vice Chair)
  2. Jeremiah Kashaka (SADS Logistics Officer) & Bienvenu Faraja (SADS Interclub Coordinator)
  3. Louis Gitu (SADS Member) & Chut Giet (SADS Member)
  4. Shalom Kimani (SADS Treasurer) & Fresher Diana (SADS Member)

Along with the following judges:

1. Stecy Onyango (SADS PR Officer)

2. Faith Musumba (Former Public Speaking Vice Chair)

3. Lucy Njeri (Former Public Speaking Member)

SADS continues to shine in this time of adversity seeking to demonstrate the core values of USIU-Africa: integrity, life-long learning, social responsibility, academic freedom and innovativeness.

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