The Three-Eyed Raven claims the throne in Africa’s biggest open debating tournament

A debating duo that includes a Wits University student, has become the first all-female team to win the Jozi Rumble (JR) debating tournament that took place at Wits on April 19 – 21.

Atlehang Molefe, a third-year Bachelor of Arts student at Wits, and Lehakoe Masedi, a Master of Laws student at the University of Free State, teamed up as the Three-Eyed Raven to participate in the largest open debating tournament in Africa.

More than 300 speakers took part in the three-day Game of Thronesthemed debating tournament. They included pupils, university students from different institutions and independent alumni from all over southern Africa.

There were 10 rounds in total, and they were presided over by 60 adjudicators.

Molefe told Wits Vuvuzela, “Lehakoe and I met in 2017 when I first joined the debate scene and we have both lost a lot of semi-finals and finals at JR. For us, this was a matter of saying that we have a point to prove and we are capable of winning.

“We consistently worked hard and we took what the adjudicators said and applied that because failure hits the most the closer you are to success,” the 20-year-old added.

The motion for the final round was: “This house regrets the glorification of opulence in popular culture.” The Three-Eyed Raven was the opening opposition against three teams which consisted of speakers from different institutions, including Wits.

Ruth Madlazi, a third-year Bachelor of Education student at the University of Johannesburg, and adjudicator of JR, said they had looked at how the speakers engaged with the other teams and whether “they have made their argument extensively and originally”.

“The winning team not only put their argument forward, but they made sure that they sell their argument and they were able to persuade the adjudicators and that stood out for me,” she said.

Director of JR and member of the Wits Debating Union, Jesse Eloff Pretorius, said, “Jozi Rumble allows for rigorous and healthy competition without much of the restrictions that characterise most debating tournaments in the country, ultimately creating a more competitive and enjoyable tournament overall.”

Prizes for the winners included an Iron Throne replica trophy, certificates and vouchers.

“Speakers benefit by growing their debating skills and also by helping their respective debating careers. Winners of JR go on to be really prevalent in the circuit, often becoming contenders for the national championship,” Pretorius said.

Molefe said, “The reason I debate is because the sport forces you to develop critical thinking skills and I have also learned to articulate very well because I am constantly engaging with someone and you learn to communicate with other people. It also forces [one] to be well informed [because] as young people we have to know everything that’s happening in the world.

“I am looking into doing a postgraduate degree in politics and this is a validation of the fact that I have to get into a career that will allow me to use the talents that I have for the betterment of society and to change the world, or maybe even do One Day Leader,” Molefe said.

FEATURED IMAGE: University of Free State’s Lehakoe Masedi, 25, and Atlehang Molefe pose with their Iron Throne trophy after winning Jozi’s Game of Thrones-themed debating tournament. Photo: Provided