Madzanga Ramabulana, all-rounder Grade 10 learner at PEPPS Polokwane College, will be the province’s sole representative at the South African debating trials set to take place in March/April this year in Gauteng.
She was spotted at the SA Schools Debating Championships held in Phalaborwa in December and hand-picked by a panel of judges to compete at the trials. If successful, she will represent South Africa as part of the South African team in Thailand in July.
She has been living with her father in Polokwane since the beginning of last year.
“I love debating and have also participated when attending school in Pretoria,” she said. “When I moved to Polokwane I also wanted to participate in debating at PEPPS. It was my comfort zone.”
She participated in the provincial championships in September last year, and was one of the chosen learners to represent the province at the National Schools Debating Championships in Phalaborwa from 10 to 15 December last year. She was coached by Isaac Moselane for the nationals.
“The first day was spent training, the second and third days there were 4 rounds of debating on each. A team comprises three debaters and you are teamed up with learners you do not know at all. At first I felt intimidated as we were competing against the best debaters from the best schools in the country. Our team won the first day of debating, but we did not make it into the finals. I felt so bad, but it was a good learning experience and I learnt a lot, as we got excellent feedback from the panel of adjudicators. I felt bad about not winning, but one cannot always win in life.” Topics for debating included, among others, the support of sin tax on fast foods, that national sports teams should reflect the racial and ethnic demographics of the country and the boycott of clothing retailers that do not have strict regulations on child labour.
The judges at the event were also adjudicating and short-listing learners for the SA trials and Madzanga was one of the shortlisted candidates who will attend the trials in March/April in Gauteng. “The date and venue is to be announced,” she said.
“If I do well at the trials I will be representing South Africa in Thailand in July,” she said. She has two coaches preparing her for the trials, Webster Morrison and Tebogo Mamabolo, who are former debaters themselves.
She did not really participate in sport last year, but this year plans to participate in tennis, has joined the cardio club at school for exercising and also serves on the school’s photography committee. The small debating society and its members at PEPPS “is like family” she said.
Asked what attracts her to debating, Madzanga said she was very interested in how the brain works and in Psychology. “My mom inspired me to attend a first practise in debating, and I was hooked,” she said.
“I would like to study law some day and debating hones skills that links well with what I want to do. I love the idea of changing how people think.”
She loves reading, especially history and fantasy books and poetry. She has also tried her hand at poetry and wishes to enter the upcoming Eisteddfod with a poem she has written herself.
Madzanga loves being in PEPPS. “It offers such a wide variety of choices in cultural activities and sport and is excellent academically.” She intends improving her Maths skills this year to improve her average for when she needs a bursary with which to study.
She will be the only learner from Limpopo to attend the trials in Gauteng, as the other candidate is in Grade 12 and prefer to rather spend the time studying.
Story and photo: NELIE ERASMUS