2015 East African Debate Champions

May 27, 2015

After months (years) of hard work, the Agahozo-Shalom debate team took home first place at the East African Debate Championship!

On Saturday May 23rd the ASYV debate team participated in the third edition of debate competitions, held in Kigali, Rwanda. A total of 62 teams from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda competed in the exciting tournament, where students from all over the region partook in lively debates surrounding challenges that are facing the East African community. The ASYV team included Maxime Iryumugaba (S6, 12th Grade), Ornella Urutesi Rwanziza (S5, 11th Grade), and Bonfils Habiyambere (S6, 12th Grade), who began the competition on a great note by beating Ugandan Kisubi High School with 76 to 54 points. This victory allowed ASYV to proceed to the next round where they defeated Academy secondary school 84 to 59 points.

Having gained momentum, the ASYV debate team met success against Kenya6 with a score of 89 to 42 points, which allowed them to enter the octofinals! During this round, teams were quickly eliminated, with only five of the teams with the greatest number of points continuing on to the next round.  The ASYV team participated in the octofinals against Ntare High School, and then proceeded to the quarterfinals playing against Gashora2, a fellow Rwandan team, with a final score of 92 to 81 points. 

ASYV then went on to qualify for the finals with an impressive victory of 3 to 0 against Gashora1.

The finals were played between ASYV and St. Mary’s College Kisubi from Uganda, with ASYV taking home the crown with a 6 to 3 win. It was a moment of joy and celebration when the ASYV team received the prestigious trophy. 

Katherine Kolios, a long-term volunteer (Village Fellow) from the United States, spoke about her experience working with and cheering on the debate team, “The students here (at ASYV) are overwhelming. They have CVs that would knock Harvard's socks off even if they were coming from a lifetime of elite private schools and personal tutors... which they are not. On Saturday, I accompanied Bonfils, Maxime & Ornella to the East African Debate Championships where, over the course of almost 12 hours, they beat out 62 other teams to claim 1st place. They went up against native English speakers, the children of parliament members, and a team from President Kagame's alma mater. They argued 7 complex motions - ranging from social media's impact on democracy to the East African Community's involvement in AMISOM - and won all 7 rounds. Not bad for one day!

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Submitted by Shelby Sullivan, 2015 Village Fellow