Debate Unravels Hidden Potentials-CDA Executive Director

The Executive Director of the Cameroon Debate Association (CDA), Marius Binyou-Bi-Homb has described the art of debating as an instrument through which Cameroonian youths could realize their hidden potentials. He nonetheless expressed regret that although debating is one of the most appropriate mechanisms for youths to make their voice heard, this exercised has been undermined in Cameroon. 

He remarked recently during the opening ceremony of a week-long workshop on Debating and Public speaking which took place in the Catholic University of Cameroon (CATUC) in Bamenda  from July 21 to 27 .During this workshop which culminated into a national championship, trainers from the USA, Canada, Cameroon and about 150 students from Universities in the country had converged to share and learn best practices on Public expression.

Binyou Bi-Homb called on youths to debate more often as it is key to curbing violence. It is in this light, he said that the CDA has undertaken the challenge to promote debate in Cameroon since 2009.
Equally in attendance, the Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University of Cameroon (CATUC) in Bamenda, Michael Suh Niba further noted that no genuine debate can be said to exist without the truth in society.

Noting that debate is essential in all democratic countries, he stated: “It is an activity which cuts across intellectual life and engulfs civil life.”He called on the students present to seize this opportunity to improve on their skills and make themselves better persons in society.

During the closing ceremony, the President of the CACTUC, Goerge Muluh expressed hope that the knowledge received would go a long way to broaden the students minds on communication, make them more tolerant and structure the way they answer questions in class.
Leading the delegation of trainers from USA and Canada, Professor Alfred Charles Snider remarked that “there is a rising voice coming up in Africa. It is one of reason but also one of love.”He then told the students that they now have the serious obligation to speak up for solutions to problems and not for revenge.
Mariel Golden, a trainer from USA told the CDA she had experienced a cultural shock during the week. She said:“Cameroonians have very strong views against Homosexuality. For me it was hard to deal with that”
For Patricia Johnson Carson, a trainer and female rights activist from Canada, she was most struck by how colonial feelings are still entrenched in the minds of the Cameroonian youth. She noted that during debate exercises, most Cameroonians expressed the need to go abroad on grounds that they are less civilized than other countries. This is wrong, she said for “being African is being beautiful and any African is just as worthy as someone born in North America”
                Professor Newby, an African American trainer from the USA said he came to realized that  despite our many differences, we got a lot in common. He then said: “We should not be divided by nation, by culture or by religion because I believe that we are stronger together.”


The six-day workshop, characterized by theoretical and practical lessons on debate based on the internationally accredited British Parliamentary format was climaxed by the award of attestations and prizes to meritorious students.

By Franca Sulem Yong

INTERVIEW WITH Prof. Alfred Snider

Cameroon’s Major Argumentative Challenge Is Appeal To Authority-              Prof. Snider


Proff Alfred Charles Snider, an Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics at the University of Vermont in the USA has diagnosed appeal to authority as the major argumentative challenge in Cameroon. The Post caught up with this expert in debate, argumentation and persuasion as he was chairing a one week workshop which culminated into an inter-university debate championship in the Catholic University of Cameroon in Bamenda, recently. Read on

The POST: we learnt from your speech during the opening ceremony that you have been to Cameroon and more specifically the Catholic University of Bamenda two times to sensitize the people on debating. Do you have any particular interest in this region?
Proff Snider: I have an interest in any region that is interested in debate and it is the people and students in Cameroon and more specifically the officials of CACTUC University who contacted me and convinced me. Also, I met with Marius Binyou-bi Homb, the President of the Cameroon Debate Association (CDA)in Botswana and learnt of his visionary work to promote debate in Cameroon and I said ‘I want to be part of this effort.’ That is why I am here.

The POST:  What do you think about the impact of debate in Cameroon?
Proff Snider: That is really up to the Cameroonians to decide. I am a foreigner. I learn from you, I share ideas but its up to the individuals. I see fantastic ability of reasoning, of speaking, of persuading and of solving difficult problems in Cameroon and that makes me very optimistic, especially with the fantastic leadership of the Cameroon Debate Association (CDA).I have trained debaters in 41 countries around the world . The clear fact is the Global discussion is incomplete unless the African Voice is heard and the African Voice is incomplete without the Cameroonian voice.

The POST: Could you tell us more about your relationship with this Cameroon Debate Association?
Proff Snider:My relationship with the CDA is excellent. I have been inspired watching them. I communicate with them, I see the work they are doing and they have a lot of struggles, it is not easy. I admire people who work hard even when it is difficult. But the goal is important. That is why I love working with them and standing in solidarity with them in their efforts.

The POST: What difficulties do you face as a trainer in Cameroon?
Proff Snider: The major argumentative Challenge in Cameroon is appeal to authority. Just because an important person says something or does something or believes something does not mean we should do it or accept it. There has to be logical, good reasons behind it. I cannot say for instance that Obama smokes Cigarettes so it is OK for me to do it. That is not an argument. Another striking issue is appeal to tradition. It is wrong to say “We have always done it this way so let us continue to do it”. If we had always accepted this appeal to tradition, then we would always have slavery. We would still be eating around in open fire at night without homes and without medicines. Tradition can stand in the way of progress. This does not mean that all tradition is bad. Traditions that are supported by good arguments are good traditions but traditions that are not supported by good arguments support the fallacy of tradition. Time-management is equally another challenge. Cameroonian youths hardly show up on time and this is a major problem because success belongs to those who show up on time.

The POST: You have taught debate in over 41 countries around the world. How do you compare Cameroon with other developing countries you have trained in?
Proff Snider: I think Cameroon is better than other developing countries when I compare it with countries like Botswana or Irak. I think that one of the differences here is that partnerships are formed between Universities and Cameroon Debate Associations. My hope is that there should be partnerships between schools, Universities, debate associations and Government because if we all became partners then the reality of creating a true debating nation can happen.

The POST: Are you going to come back to Cameroon?
Proff Snider: My schedule is very busy. If I do not come  back. If I do not come to Cameroon, it is because I went somewhere where they have no debate. Cameroon has the beginning of debate. The seed is planted. I would love to come back but if I get the chance to go to Iran or North Korea, I will most likely go there. Otherwise, Cameroon debate and Cameroon Debate Association would always be in my heart.

The POST: Many Cameroonian women feel Public Speaking and debating is for men. The What advice do you have to give to them to that effect?
Proff Snider: There are many problems facing us in the 21st Century. We need 100 and not 50 percent of the brains and voices of our people to solve these  problems. Women must be heard and they would be heard. They should not be afraid. It is easy to just seat there and be quiet. They have very important things to say. No issue is discussed effectively unless my sisters voice has been heard. That is why I am so encouraged to hear the strong voices of my Cameroonian sisters.

The POST: What is the take-away message of this Cameroon Debate Academy?
The take-home message is that we have a lot of ability. We may not think we have these abilities but we do. We may not think that we are intelligent enough to understand complex issues. Many Cameroonian youths were very shy at the beginning, hesitant to speak and then as the week went on they became more and more confident. These are the things I see growing-the ability to understand and the ability to speak. It is in this regard that I judge this to be a success.

Interwiewed by FRANCA SULEM YONG


Cameroon Debate Academy 2013 (2nd edition), CATUC, 21-27 july


By Sulem Franca 


Qualities Of a Good Public Speaker
-Be Confident
-Manage your time
-Have a strong believe
Ø  How To Became a Dynamic Public Speaker
-Be flexible in your hand gesture
-Use emphasis with your voice: Connect the words to physical movements
-Do not do things that are unnatural to you
I-Non-Verbal Language
-Vary the pitch of your voice
-Speed of delivery must be moderate and not hasty
-Use dramatic pause to let your point sink in
-Be a conscious speaker
-Use eye contact
-Facial expressions
-Have a good posture
-Take little steps when you want to move from point to point

-Choose your language carefully
-Use evocative and colourful language without turning your speeches in to a rap
-Do not use offensive language
-Every public speaker should be clear and comprehensive
-A good delivery compels the audience to believe you
-A memorable speech is a good combination
III-Projecting a Great Personality
-Show genuine concern for your subject matter
-Friendliness, Kindness
-Connect the arguments
-Use common sense and sense of humor
IV-Developing a Pleasing Voice
-Have a good breath
-Relax your throat muscles
-Record your voice and train

V-Dealing With The Fear Of Public Speaking
-Accept that it is natural to be nervous
-Find confidence in your preparations
-Take a deep breath and relax
-Believe in yourself
-Have fun

VI-A Charismatic Public Speaker
-Show that confidence
-Do not be restrained or subdued
-Be authentic
-Be mindful of your audience
-Be conscious. Be in the moment. pay attention to the audiences reaction.
-Be immune to criticisms or flattery
In a nutshell, the tac-tics of Public speaking can be sumarised into the 6 Cs thus; Confidence,Comfortable, Conscious,Corelation with the audience,Clarity and Charm.

By Mariel Golden
-Speak with Purpose
-Think collaboratively with your partner
-Identify the targets
-Chose your words
-Think about the motion in a principal or practical sense
-Start by saying why the other side is bad and conclude by explaining why you think your opinion is good
-You defend like: Assertion, Reason, Evidence
The Logical Step
-Be truthful
-Do not quote laws
-Do not quote the Bible
-Do not reveal how much money people earn
-Do not use personal anecdote
-Do not overwhelm people with statistics
-Do not make assumptions about what people know
-Do not use technical terms relative to your field

Things To Do
-Put the most important material in the first speech
-Do have a model
-Do not spend minutes explaining a model
-Stand up often for POI
-Use international law
-Do tailor your arguments or libel your arguments
-Start by citing obvious points
-Number your arguments and counter-arguments

-Be informed
The actors and targets
-The different categories about the motion
-the different options

-Silently write down all you know about a topic
-Prepare separately from the other team in your side
-Silently write down all you know about the topic
Do not talk a lot during preparation time.Think more
-The PM frames the topic and defines the question

v  3 Minutes for brainstorming
v  6 Minutes for identification of arguments
v  2 Minutes for a recap of your arguments
v  2 Minutes to forsee counter-arguments
v  2 Minutes to share responsibilities

-Use outlines
-Establish the impact of that point on a debate
-Refute in order
-Attack the data, impact or point out the missing part of it all
-Refute the assumption behind the argument
-try to argue comparatively
-Turn the argument around your opponent
-Structure: Statement, Disagreement,reason,Impact


-It helps to establish your credibility
-It shows you are comfronting

-Stand up for 20 seconds at most
-Stay active
-Plan before spelling out your POI
-Be direct and short
-Look at the judge
-Ask when it is appropriate
-Anticipate their responses


-No hasty generalization
-Have examples that are significant,representative and should allow people to draw conclusions
-Make sure examples apply to the arguments
-Avoid pseudo-arguments
-Avoid the fallacy of repeated argument
-Avoid substituting the person for the argument
-Avoid substituting bomb blasts
Do not deny a valid conclusion
-Do not use popular opinion
-Do not let people predict what you are going to debate about


-PROBABILITY: Things that are more probable are more important