Most people consider Debate Club a safe haven for the argumentative fellas, but this may alter your perspective. Recently , Joy Liong and Nazziwa Yasmin ambushed Mr. Habib Ssenyonjo , the current club patron of Debate Club , relentlessly till he finally accepted to sit for an interview.
Over the years , the history of this brilliant club has been lost but we managed to find morsels of information. This magnificent club was established by Mr. Miuwa Mustafa who couldn’t neglect the A ‘level students who were blessed with debating skills. Mr. Ssenyonjo arrived and found the club in existence , under the leadership of the loving and caring Mrs. Brenda Timamwenda. He later succeeded as patron in 2000 till date , however he took breaks from his duties whenever he needed to pursue his further studies.
During Mr. Habib’s reign, the club started to grow stronger and gained even more fame than before. Mr. Habib has greatly improved debate and was one time awarded “Patron of the year” by Hajjat Aisha for the tremendous work he has done. Not only did he take debate club from national to international heights but he also encouraged debaters to take up prefectorial and leadership posts.
Debate has prospered over the years from being just a local club that people didn’t think much of to going for their first international function in Kenya, introducing online debate sessions in 2008 making a Sunsas (Nabisunsa Girls’) and SMACK (Saint Mary’s College Kisubi) team consisting of two boys and three girls who participated in the World Schools’ Debate Championships which were funded by Qatar Foundation. The finals were held in January and thankfully, the SUNSAS and SMACK team managed to get 3 out of 6 wins. The contestants were then granted the opportunity to fly to the New York University and were awarded certificates.
Mr. Habib later disclosed that one of the most remarkable things in debate was in 2010 when Irene Ikomu , a debater from Nabisunsa who advanced from being fairly good at debate in O’level to being exceptional enough to travel to South Africa. Her time of travel just happened to be the same time Obama had come to Africa. Irene meet him and asked him a question in Parliament, “Why does US give us aid instead of telling us to be self-reliant?’’ The question got Obama thinking critically about Africa, so he formed a Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship. In the Fellowship, girls were trained in various fields like sports, entrepreneurship, journalism and so many other spheres.
- Who were your most memorable debaters?
There was Irene Mutoza who invited Robert Kabushenga, the former Chief Executive Officer of the New Vision Group Uganda to the school. Hereafter, he was impressed by the students’ discipline and the ladies were rewarded with jobs at New Vision, this was the girls’ first employment at the time.
2. Any sad moments you’d like to share with us?
In 2008, the four ladies were given an opportunity to participate in the Youth Leadership Summit in New York. A letter was sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs through his Permanent Secretary, the latter of whom failed to deliver the letter. In the end, the girls missed out on the opportunity, this was devastating for the school, parents and students themselves.
3. What is your vision for the future of Debate Club?
I envision my debaters to not only traverse and change the world but also become leaders to promote leadership, speaking skills and integrity.
4. What challenges have you faced so far?
Luckily, the ladies are very disciplined. The biggest setback the club is currently facing is funding. An example being earlier this year when two ladies were funded by their parents when travelling to United Kingdom for a debate championship.
In summary because of Mr. Habib’s tireless efforts, Debate Club has achieved a spot at the top of the hierarchy of clubs in Nabisunsa Girls’ Secondary School.