The most fruitful venture I indulged myself in during my four year stay on the University of Ghana campus inarguably has been debate. I flirted with students’ politics for a while but the pettiness in it was very off putting. Basketball was a childhood dream but I never had the heart to put myself through the vicissitudes of an athlete’s life.
Debate offered the perfect release for a lot of pent up energy gaged by the lid society places of expressiveness. I enjoyed my time in that sports to the highest level possible. For me active participation in debate, particularly as a speaker is an avenue for personal development while still in school. The minute you graduate, you move into real life argumentation with those skills with the option of propping up the next generation of speakers. With my undergraduate studies wrapped up, it was time to move into the aforementioned realm. But before I do that, there was a need for a farewell tournament in the national debate championship.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my last tournament as a speaker in Ghanaian debate circle coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. It was a fortunate coincidence because it gave me the opportunity to keep myself busy while in the month of Ramadan. The Devil might be bounded in chains in this holy month but the internalized devil was ever present. Beating the desires of the self was still a challenge even in this month. That becomes easier once you keep yourself busy. After all, the devil only found work in the hands of the lazy.
The unfortunate thing is, all this has some toll on your plans for the month. Spirituality thrives on membership of a likeminded community. Once you immerse yourself in such a surrounding, praying on time becomes easier, it is easier to get motivation to read the Quran as many times as possible. It takes a significant amount of perseverance to stay true to what you tell yourself to do in the month.
Nonetheless, debating must go on and staying true to the religion is non-comprisable. You can be an Abdullah and still whip from closing opposition while running on no water or food. That is easy. What is not is arguing motions which calls into question your faith, challenges what you have held dear for so long and asks you to defend the reprehensible.
A year or more in debate coupled with full dedication to the sport exposes you to very liberal tendencies. You begin to see the seeming wisdom in giving primacy to the individual over the choices of the group. What then becomes of the dictates of society, the group or religion?
Speakers are given the freedom to construct their arguments in whatsoever shape or form they deem fit but nonetheless, adjudication from the past eggs you on in a particular direction. You either argue like a libertarian and win or pontificate about scripture and lose out. It might all be just for the fun of the sport but what does that make of your strongly held beliefs. Are you compromising or are you just doing it?
The struggle is a daily affair but what wins it is the conviction that your faith remains intact after the 7 minutes of speaking while your rhetoric skills shoot through the roof.