Opinion and Analysis
Foster debate to promote vibrant democracy
Posted Monday, July 2 2012 at 22:28
Everyone debates. Every statement dignified with a response borders on debate. Haggling over prices and justification for deeds committed falls under the same category. However, this could be debated upon as viewed from the various perspectives.
Debating is inherently in all human beings.
There is always the urge in us to point out a fact with an attempt to put a point across or just get a response to the contrary. Debates break down national, economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries, showing that opposing views can be explored in a way that connects rather than divides people.
Discourse, disagreement, and reconciliation are perhaps the most fundamental media for the spread of existing ideas and the discovery of new ones. Debate has the power to challenge existing dogmas and retrieve hidden truths.
Debating, and the principles that it teaches, such as logical thought construction, the selection and presentation of key arguments, and the appropriate use of data and statistics to support a hypothesis, are becoming increasingly important in the modern world.
That said, there are other crucial aspects that revolve around the whole debating issue.
They include: good communication skills, confidence, fluency in whatever language the debate is about - though it is most often in English - and many other traits. Confidence is the point of emphasis today. On-going debates, conducted by the Kenya National Debate Council, (KNDC), are in the British Parliamentary Debate Model.
This entails many things, including team-work, a competitive spirit, lots of knowledge about current issues and more importantly confidence to stand before crowds and defend and support the respective points of view.
For the people who are not born confident, and those that shudder at the thought of facing a crowd, here is a little advice for you - practice! A good command of language also plays a vital role.
Debate can help democracies heal from the wounds inflicted by oppressive dictatorships and ethnic violence by providing a forum where these volatile issues can be openly discussed.
Citizens who engaged in such debates learn first-hand how democracy works.
The writers are organising secretary and assistant secretary-general at the Kenya National Debate Council.