image

CASE BACKGROUND: This year’s Jaw Wars contest has now reached the final stage. Tension is heightened, blood pressures are rising and the rate of interest has sky-rocketed. With preparations for the end going on, it becomes mandatory to assess it so far. It has had its ups and downs, many would agree. While some praise it, others have harshly criticised its shortcomings. Our in-house scribes are here to present cases from extreme ends…

YES, IT HAS INDEED BEEN GOOD SO FAR!

image

“For a mind that knows is a mind that is free” – University of Ibadan anthem

Anyone that claims this year’s Jaw Wars has been perfect so far is a liar. But whoever claims it has been anything short of impressive is something much worse. With Jaw Wars-related twitter hash tags and Facebook posts tyrannically dominating the web like a fat lady on a two-man seat, its success is a fact wearing the garment of clarity and unmistakability.

The theme of this edition, “Debating Solutions to Africa’s Problems”, has been manifested in the intellectual brawl of wits and words that has characterised the competition so far. It has spurred debates even beyond the walls of the Faculty of Science Lecture Theatre. Through the thought-provoking nature of the topics, students – both the debaters and onlookers – have begun to ponder upon matters which are of extreme importance to Nigeria and the black continent at large. Issues such as China’s effect on our economy, morality of the legal system, existence of neo-colonialism and black identity are now objects of chitchat on campus. It has opened up our minds and gives us freedom of erudition. That is definitely a sign of intellectual development and the Jaw Wars is to be thanked for it.

An indisputable truism is that it has been tasking for the competitors. Being a member of my hall’s Literary and Debating Society, I can testify to the level of hard work this year’s edition has inspired. Due to the intense but friendly rivalry among the warring sides, it has led to an incredible amount of research work and training like never before. It has broadened the scope of the students in invaluable ways. This is cannot be mistaken for anything but a good thing.

Unlike some past editions that were effective cures for insomnia, the debates in the 2015 Jaw Wars have been well-cooked in the pot of entertainment, garnished with drama, gusto, humour and exciting “punch lines”. It was obvious that many students went to the events primarily for the sake of having fun, and they got that and much more. Rather than come to the podium to regurgitate facts like mindless machines, the debaters made it a very lively affair that educated and entertained with equal measure.

More so, the nature of the competition has drawn students of the University of Ibadan from every part to witness the much talked about phenomenon. It has unquestionably fostered unity in the school, albeit in less noble ways. Either in the instance of a science and an art student bonding over their shared disdain for the Faculty of Law or a Zikite and a Katangite uniting in support of a common hall, there are crystal-clear examples of this. Every single day an event held, you would see the Faculty of Science Lecture Theatre packed full, with the number of seats ending up being inconsequential in comparison to the swarm of students present.

Perhaps it has had its shortcomings. Perhaps. But to say that, because of these shortcomings, we now have the right to crucify it on the cross of defamation is to swim in the fallacious waters of ignorance. Indeed, my ancestors had been stung by the bee of wisdom when they said, “no man cuts off his own head simply because of a headache.” Minor faults should not be the basis for criticising the entirety of the prestigious and insanely successful oratory battle.

In conclusion, I believe any contest that encourages the exercise of the freedom of the mind and simultaneously manages to be a source of entertainment is worthy of true commendation. To say it is undeserving of the common word “good” is to be insensitive to the amount of money and time the organisers and participant spent in preparation for it.

image

image

NOT AT ALL!

image

One man’s word is no man’s word, we should quietly hear both sides ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Just last session, many of us witnessed the historic resuscitation of the Inter-Faculty and Inter-Hall debate tournament tagged Jaw War. For some, it was the right amount of spark they needed to shine in public speaking. While for others, it was a perfect escape from the daily déjà vus of campus life. This year again, the Central Literary and Debating Society is bubbling with energy and has successfully shown that it is not like the honey bee which administers one powerful string and then dies thereafter with no hope of future charges.

I am not however here to commend the Central LnD for sustaining the programme. Milords, I am rather here to evaluate whether from the first rounds through the quarterfinal to the semi-final, the battle has been commendable; to see whether progress has been satisfactory. And on this, I can confidently say a CAPITAL NO! NO, the contest has not been commendable and NO, the progress hasn’t been satisfactory. Surprised? Well I pray thee, follow Von Geothe’s admonition and hear me out first.

First off, though we may in isolation consider the Science FLT a large venue. By the time we factor the huge number of spectators who religiously and relentlessly flock to the place every time there is a contest, Milords you will agree with me that it is far from being large enough. Through all the rounds, tens of people always have no choice but to stand at the back getting only blurred and myopic images of the event. If you say, like our lecturers, that it is their reward for coming late; then please remember that the school management never declared the periods lecture-free. Definitely, the University of Ibadan can do better than this.

Flowing from my first observation, the hall was also not well ventilated even though huge air conditioners stood gallantly at strategic points. But just like many other things in U.I, they possess a merely ornamental value. Every Tomisin, Dickson and Harrison in the hall perspired like they just devoured 10 wraps of amala from Bodija. To make matters worse, the speakers showed no mercy as they nevertheless still hurled verbal punches and uppercuts at them. In fact, all the time I attended and was outside the arena, a keen observer would have thought I was there for a 60-minute impromptu speech. Despite the fact that I consistently sat beside a window, I still got soaked wet in sweat. Milords, I’m sure we can do better.

In addendum, I also noticed (with my koro-koro eyes mind you) that some of the apparatus used for the event were full of faults. And the most obvious of these is the public address system. Anyone who actually graced the occasion would find that both the primary, ‘Maintenance’-dependent P.A. system and the secondary one were not up to scratch. While the former was stammering like Goodluck Jonathan on CNN, the other sounded like Patience Jonathan after a long day of electioneering.

Moving on, I would say it is not within the province of doubt that the reason why the world knows about debating societies in other universities such as that of Harvard (which by the way recently got thrashed in a contest with prisoners) and the Oxford Union is due to their solid internet presence. Here, nobody knows about our excellent speakers because we do not harness the same instrument. While the debates may have been fantastic, videos of them are still not on YouTube and we are yet to see any media house around to cover them. This is simply an underutilisation of potentials and we sure can do better.

Milords, I must say I feel vindicated already even though I have not even caressed areas such as the puzzling absenteeism of ‘item 7’ for the debaters at least, the series of results mired in controversy and the ever-constant late beginnings. Let us not count the number of gladiators, check the long file of judges, measure the regiment of spectators or even get lost in the gulf of punch lines in a bid to give Jaw War a pass mark for wise Seneca said it is quality rather than quantity that matters. The facts as to quality already have stood up; they have spoken up and have also shut up – hear them!
Though I cannot tell what surprises the final round has got in the cards, what more do we need to convince us that thus far, Jaw War has not been good enough? What else can show us that it has not been up to par? Besides milords, if this is not mediocrity … then tell me: what is?

CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.

JAW WAR 2015: SO FAR SO GOOD?
Send reservations, comments and suggestions to 090-929-18298, 081-489-04513 or dcourtroom12@gmail.com