On 22 October, AE du Toit Auditorium was the venue for UP students to see the first public speaking championship go down to the wire. Seven finalists battled it out for the best speaker of the maiden championship where nursing student, Onyinyechukwu Maryjane Igbojinna, was crowned the winner. Igbojinna on winning the competition said that “honestly speaking I am very grateful to God, to my family, and I’m grateful to the trainers for pushing us to get out of our comfort zones”. Igbojinna’s topic was on content creation as being a solution to unemployment eradication, and she indicated that she chose this topic because “I was watching a few videos on social media and I thought content creating, let me speak about that”. Igbojinna indicated that she advices more students to take part in public speaking – “public speaking is such a vital skill that we all need to have because when we grow up one day, whether we are healthcare workers or whether we are in the corporate world, you need to learn how to speak to people.
With the winner crowned there was also a winner for the best improved speaker throughout the tournament and that went to Sibusiso Mziyako. Mziyako is a debater who was coerced to enter the competition by a friend who saw his potential. “Actually, I was forced to enter by my friend. […] This one is my first ever competition to try out. From the experience I had from debate, I had to transition to suit public speaking” said Mziyako. PDBY asked him what his plans are moving forward “More public speaking, more auditions. I think of going to radio. I’m thinking to work more with brands, which will improve my public speaking” said Mziyako. “I got exposed to issues I was not familiar with. […] Now I am more aware of what is happening in South Africa” replied Mziyako when PDBY asked how the competition influenced him.
Miss South Africa 2010 and business woman, Bokang Montjane Tshabalala was one of the judging panellists. Montjane Tshabalala told PDBY that “I think its extremely important, for whatever industry you want to go into you need to be a good communicator, whether its in a boardroom, whether its in a plant, at the end of the day communication skills and public speaking skills I personally feel are skills each and every person should have”. The highlight of the event for Montjane Tshabalala was that the theme was about South Africa – “listen, for me it was for the fact that the topic was South Africa, and here I was looking at seven different young people in our country and they all touched on something totally different, and I thought to myself how different was that. She went on to further indicate that “the topics were thought provoking, they got me thinking, got me looking deep inside and I thought to myself, oh my goodness, the excellence of our people, especially the young people. The youth actually has solutions to the problems that are currently taking place, not just in South Africa, but on the continent”. UP Podcaster and radio personality, Lennox Wasara was also a judging panellist, and he commented that “I think its very important to pass on the knowledge to the next generation of speakers and helping people to be equipped to speak their message confidently and comfortably”.
Elma Akob, the founder, and CEO of Elevate Africa which is in partnership was the programme director for the day. “With this maiden tournament done, it can be seen as our flagship tournament for more to come” said Akob. Akob added that “UP is the first of many more to come, we intend to introduce this throughout South African universities moving forward. We want to have more tournaments, regional and national championship in due course”.