Gauteng open debating winners, Ntsikelelo Barnabas (left) and Siyanda Baduza want to be the next African debating champions.

A Wits First-year duo competing in their first tournament as partners won the Gauteng open debating tournament which took place in Pretoria on Sunday, September 3.

Siyanda Baduza, who is studying electrical engineering, and Ntsikelelo Barnabas, a BA student, were the only first year team who participated in the interprovincial Gauteng Open debating tournament.

Barnabas said that he is excited because this was the first tournament that the pair havewon as university speakers.

The duo are originally from the Eastern Cape and Barnabas explained that debating in the province is not prestigious. “We wanted to break the glass ceiling so that people change the perception where debaters from other provinces are looked down upon,” he said.

Barnabas said that debating against people with a good reputation and experience in debating is not easy when you’re unknown as it can affect yourself-esteem and “jeopardise your performance”.

Baduza said that winning the Gauteng Open helped the duo establish a name for themselves and has encouraged them to work harder. Barnabas  said “when you win once, you want to maintain that winning spree”.

Though it is good to win, Baduza explained, “you need to learn how to take a loss and recover from it quickly because you lose and have to speak against someone 10 minutes later.”

Barnabas added that it means that you can’t let previous debating achievements go to your head.

Wits Debating Union chairperson Donavan Masawi said that he is pleased with the performance of the duo. He also added that “the hunger of first years is inspiring to the union as a whole” and brings certainty that the future of the union is in good hands.

The two are working towards taking part in continental and even international tournaments. Baduza said that winning the Gauteng Open was the first step to making that possible.

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