‘Everything else follows success’
Southern Africa’s first black South African Debating Champion, Gwinyai Aubrey Dube, has been successfully elected onto the SRC.
And as a new member, Dube wants “Witsies to realise that we are all a community”.
“Students need to understand their fellow Witsies, not just tolerate them. We can help the larger Wits community if we come together and deal with the issues facing students, staff, cleaners and workers on campus.”
He said he wanted to encourage students to understand the responsibility and weight “we have on our shoulders. We have a huge role to play in the world”.
Dube, Politics and International Relations Honours, believes he can “encourage students to understand transformation at Wits instead of just tolerating it” through his position on the SRC.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela about his debating win earlier this year, he said he was “initially focused on winning for Wits, but not winning as a black man”.
“I didn’t realise how important this win was for me was until one of my teammates pointed out that I was the first black male to win such a tournament in South Africa.”
Dube is also the first black Zimbabwean to win such a tournament and this made him a bit of a celebrity in the country.
He decided to run in this year’s SRC election because he wanted to create an “effective SRC”.
Dube made it into the finals of the South African Debating Championship in Botswana, with his speaking partner, Saul Musker (who was part of the international winning team in Thailand). Dube ultimately won the tournament for Wits.
His debating career began in grade seven when his teacher asked him to debate a number of issues.
“From there, I just knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I got into debating in high school but we didn’t take it seriously.”
When he got to university, the Wits Debating Union (WDU) was one of the first things he looked into. He immediately joined up and started working his way into competitions.
Dube has overcome many challenges to become a success at Wits. He experienced his parents’ “messy divorce” when he was five, which forced his family to move around a lot.
“Eventually we settled on a family farm just outside of Harare where I lived with my mom’s sister and 12 of my cousins.”
The farm was 30km from his school in Harare and Dube would wake up at 4am to get to school on time.
When Dube was 17 his mother got sick. She realised Dube was going to need his father, even though Dube and his father “had a rocky relationship” at the time. She encouraged them to re-connect.
Just before he left Zimbabwe to come to Wits, Dube’s mother passed away.
“It made me re-evaluate things. I decided to take a gap year. Her death shaped me because, before she died, she continuously encouraged me to have faith in my abilities. We were best friends.”
Dube said both the divorce and his mother’s death forced him to “grow into his own character”. It taught him how to treat women, and he hoped his relationships would never resemble his parent’s marriage.
“Everything else follows success”, a saying his father taught him, has stuck with him throughout his time at university. “My dad’s words inspire [me] every day, together with the faith my mom always had which lives within me.”
He has a message for fellow Witsies: “Success is only limited by how far you can dream.”