Balgowan Conservancy funded transport for the Zenzane Enviro Club to attend the environmental debate held to celebrate International Museum Day at the Howick uMngeni Museum. The youngsters have been preparing for the last few weeks and were keen to meet their debate opponents the Mpophomeni Enviro Club. MCF believes that it is important to facilitate gatherings of eco-conscious youngsters from different areas. Not only does this reinforce their environmental commitment, if gives them confidence knowing there are others who share their concerns for the state of or planet.
Mphato Mnyeni and Ntokozo Dladla (self proclaimed Captain Planet!) are long standing members of the club who have been on a couple of fieldtrips to the mistbelt forest organised by Balgowan Conservancy. “We loved the forest, saw a lot of things and noted all the different birds,” they said, adding “we will take care of nature.”
The debate topic was “Which Year was Better for the Environment – 1914 or 2014?”, a perfect compliment to the Stories of Change Local History Exhibition at the Howick uMngeni Museum in which eight schools are participating. This is a project of the Midlands Meander Association Education Project (MMAEP) who also facilitate both these Enviro Clubs.
After exploring the museum looking at the old fashioned cooking methods and other exhibits of life 100 years ago, they settled in to have a debate. The facilitator, Lawrence Strydom explained the rules of a debate emphasising the importance of listening carefully to what the other team had to say so as to prepare an appropriate rebuttal.
Sihle Ncgobo opened the debate on behalf of Mpophomeni by saying ” We acknowledge all the environmental problems we are facing in today’s life. However, sustainable solutions are on the table and are being implemented. We know there is much to be done, but the environment today is better than 100 years ago.”
Thandeka Mbokazi was first to speak on behalf of Zenzane stating the use of renewable materials – wood and animal manure – did less harm to the environment than all the cars and chemicals which cause pollution and green house gases today.
Asanda Nguabe argued that the Green Economy could solve many of the issues by creating employment and improving well being and social equity and at the same time reducing environmental crises. Use of water cleaning technologies and solar energy were examples given.
Zenzane got really worked up about oil spills in the ocean and the rhino poaching crisis, but Nomfundo Mlotshwa asked “what about the Quagga which was hunted to extinction all those years ago? We can’t bring an animal back from extinction, but we can still work to save the rhino!”
Sue van Rensburg of SAEON, one of the judges, was struck by the passion with which each team presented their arguments. “The future of our country is in your hands” she said. “However, it depends on how well you can present your arguments to politicians, your neighbours, economists and conservationists. Do not underestimate the importance of debating skills. In particular, being able to listen to your opponent and separate facts from fiction or assumption.”
Excellent arguments, retorts and good manners from both teams resulted in each team winning different categories. “Its not about who wins, its about what we learn. This is great start to a possible annual event between the two keen clubs and is a fantastic way for these youngsters to gain experience in public speaking and debate.” concluded Eidin Griffin of MMAEP.
When the taxi driver, Fresh Chiliza, arrived to transport the learners back to Balgowan he commented to the organisers “You girls are doing great work. As I drive I can hear the kids talking about these environmental things. It is really fantastic, you are making a big difference.”