“The world requires us to engage with one another on our different views on a daily basis,” says head coach at the Namibia Debate Union, Ivan Limbo.
Coming from a debating background, with his grandfather serving on the Mafwe Traditional Authority for 15 years – mostly involved in dispute resolution – and three of his aunts in the Namibian parliament, Limbo said debating has always been a “family sport”.
Originally from the Zambezi region, Limbo started work with the Namibian debating society after returning to Namibia from the Pan African University Debating championships in Zimbabwe around 2015.
On his return, Limbo ran into fellow Namibian debaters Clinton Muinjo and Victor Mabuku who were travelling with students for the Orate Africa competition.
“Here, the Namibian team came to the understanding that the standard of debating in Namibian schools was far lower than their African counterparts,” he told Youth Corner.
Limbo noted that in an effort to cultivate a reading and research culture, he and the team then decided to align their schedules to set up training programmes, host tournaments and scout debaters, which in turn automatically created an upswing in their winning streak.
“For close to six years, I spent half my Decembers in other countries, just debating,” he narrated.
Currently working full-time for the City of Windhoek as a property valuer, having received an honours degree in Property Studies from the Namibian University of Science and Technology, Limbo noted that the world’s most advanced democracies believe in the power of engaging and participation of civil society.
“Debating has fostered meaningful discussions around subjects we consider to be taboo like race, culture, religion, identity or sexuality. So, debating allows us to come up with solutions that have been interrogated on both sides of the spectrum.”
In August last year, Limbo and Muinjo coached Namibian teenagers who participated in the World Schools Debate competition held in China, where they scooped the country’s first international debate accolades.
The Namibian team comprised five pupils Christiaan Prinsloo, who was crowned the best new nations’ speaker; Anesu Mushonga, who won the best new nations’ speaker; Tangeni Hatutale, Lotto Nanghonda, who was the second best new nations’ speaker; and Zest Hill.
Two years earlier, Limbo and Muinjo coached the Namibian High School Debating team at the Inaugural Pan-African Schools’ Debating Championships in Johannesburg, South Africa, which saw the Namibian A team making it all the way to the final where they lost against Sacred Heart College, a high school from Johannesburg, obtaining a silver medal.
As for their future plans, Limbo and his team intend on sending four teams to Botswana for the Orate Africa Championship and an additional four teams to South Africa for debating contests in that country.
Outside of his work with the local debating society, Limbo and Muinjo opened their own academy.
Not limited to debate training, the pair also offer prepping for scholarship interviews, defence for research work, presentations and public speaking.