senior oratory 2019

BY Mrs A Peltason

The High School Oratory Competition this year was ably hosted by SihlumilE Majombozi and her team of Cultural Board members, among them Kesley Rayners and Tamia Smith who introduced the speakers.
Mrs Gerber opened the proceedings with a little talk to the girls about good audience response, highlighting that the Oratory Contest has always been one of the premier events on the school calendar. Mrs Gerber succeeded in adding a touch of gravitas to the event, and the girls rose to the occasion. It was a rare pleasure to see them all so wholly tuned in to the different speeches.
Sihlumile Majombozi introduced Miss Mxoli, the adjudicator. Miss Olwethu Mxoli, herself an Old Girl and an experienced and talented speaker, adjudicated the event with dignified professionalism.. In her adjudication Miss Mxoli mentioned the two things she rated most highly: passion and substance. She pointed out in her adjudication that even the best speeches failed for a lack of passion, and some of the most passionate speeches did not bring with them any evidence of research. Miss Mxoli, a published poet, won the Communicator’s Cup at Riebeek and is now a member of International Toastmasters. She is proposing to start a Toastmasters club in Uitenhage for school-going learners in the future.
Kesley Rayners introduced the first Junior speaker: Fatima Mahouassa, Elton House, who put her own personal slant on the expression “Disappearing Act”. Fatima’s angle was that the saddest people often hide behind the brightest of smiles. She warned the audience that this was stage one of ‘The Disappearing Act’ and if one were to allow oneself to reach stage two there was a chance of disappearing altogether.
Jihaad Ravat of Eleanor House then gave and intelligent and amusing talk about Cartoons. This was an intellectually challenging speech with lots of humour, much of it cleverly tongue-in-cheek. Jihaad taught us that those dear little characters from Winnie the Pooh were actually quite deceiving, as Rabbit had OCD, Tigger was most definitely ADHD and Piglet suffered from anxiety.
Sihlumile Mongo of Eleanor followed with a mature, well-rounded and clever speech from which we learned that ‘Chocolate never asks stupid questions’ , that chocolate can wipe away every tear and is cheaper than therapy. Her speech was short and sweet but packed a real punch. Miss Mxoli mentioned afterwards that ‘Chocolate’ had a great future in public speaking.
Kelsey Dinie spoke to us about what makes a hero. She took great pains to show that heroes are those who sometimes do little things like not giving up a seat on a bus, not for themselves but for others. She counted among her heroes Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jnr because the things they did had an impact upon the lives of others.
The winning speaker followed with her speech ‘She’. Musa Daweti from Elizabeth intrigued us with her emotionally charged speech about a woman’s struggle through puberty, relationships, and abuse, ultimately reaching a state of self-love. Musa’s speech was a real crowd-pleaser and the girls enjoyed her solemn warning that “if a woman can’t love herself, no one will”.
Mbazakazi Bantom of Elton spoke on ‘Black excellence’ explaining that this meant possessing qualities that would make people proud to be African. To her it meant uplifting others. She told the audience, “If you don’t like something change it; and if you can’t, live with it.
Nobuhle Moyo of Elizabeth House was next with her ‘Nike’ speech. Nike means ‘Just do it’ so it was important, she told everyone, not to ‘Adidas ‘ your dreams; ‘Nike’ your dreams and make your dreams a reality. Hers was an attractive speech with a lot of personality and clever analogies.
Siyavuya Moyake of Eleanor then spoke on the topic “Once upon a time” illustrating that many who live in dismal circumstances have dreams too, and sadly awaken to the bitter reality of the miserable lives they lead. She gave an impassioned speech that showed a tender sympathy for those less fortunate.
It was then the turn of the senior contestants, after a short break during which we were entertained with an innovative dance routine, a clip of the best of Britain’s Got Talent.
Casey Els , representing Elizabeth, spoke first , forcing us to imagine what it might be like to live in a country ripped apart by conflict. She showed herself to have an accurate and sympathetic view of those who live in conflict zones. She saw peace as a lifestyle choice, a serious indictment of the status quo. She implored the man in the street to get involved. As she said, “It starts with the individual”.
Lisakhanya Daniels of Eleanor then spoke about “Unity”, quoting Maya Angelou’s words, “no human being can be more human than another human being”. She cleverly showed how all people,irrespective of colour or creed , came from the earth and from the same source that made the rivers and the earth.
Alexandra Dennis , also of Eleanor House, showed us that nothing, not all, “is fair in love and war” She illustrated how people in war, in business and even in relationships cheat and lie and tell themselves that it is all right without taking into account the impact their words and actions have on others.
The speech “A Mirror” showed how the mirror often lies. Lisakhanya Maseti illustrated how a mirror can never reveal the inner person, and will often tell you that you are beautiful on one day and ugly the next. She warned us not to allow the mirror to determine who we are, and came up with a new mantra: Mirror, mirror on the wall, we are all the fairest after all.
Thimna Tshayana of Elizabeth proved to be another speaker mentioned by Miss Mxoli as promising. She spoke to us on her topic “Ekasi”, illustrating the often horrific qualities of township life, and mentioning how, for many, sitting on a street corner had become a career path. A township dweller herself, Thimna was able to give a convincing, realistic and sometimes terrifying image of ‘Ekasi’, finishing strongly with the statement: “I am not the township”.
Amy Schambril of Elizabeth House still aims to become a doctor, a dream she has nurtured since early childhood. She has remained faithful to her dream all along. She asked those listening to help make dreams possible by making choices in a country that would then provide safety and compassion and equality. Sadly, she reminded the listeners, reality suggests that the dream is impossible. Her plea to the audience: “I need all of you to give my dream some kind of hope of success.” Let us all hope that Amy realises her dream of becoming a doctor. She will be an excellent one!
The next young woman murdered a sixteen-year-old. Azraa Rockman of Elton gave the audience a retrospective view of her own life, as she said, not known by many. In it she was able to see the mistakes she had made and the changes she wanted to make. The changes she had undergone in the previous year were so radical it was like murdering the person she was ,the softer, gentler self. She confessed to having become tougher and harder. She finished with a nice touch, tearing up her eulogy , saying “No good ever comes of speaking ill of the dead.”
Romesa Muhammad of Elton spoke to us about “growing up”. Her delightful conversational tone added something special to her speech. She told us how, as children, we are told that we could tell them (adults) anything and everything, but that as we grew up we became disillusioned by adults whose concern seemed to dissipate. She finished with the realisation that, “We are all a work in progress”.
Lerise Johnson on “Murphy’s Law” represented Elton. She conversed with her audience on those things that are sometimes co-incidence and sometimes a pleasant reassurance that anything can happen. In her easy conversational manner she told us that we could blame the universe for “its infinite capacity to do whatever the heck it wants.”
Last to speak was Malakhiwe Hoffman of Eleanor who tackled the gender issue in her speech “Gender equality is a myth; women are superior” She showed how women functioned on so many levels, in so many different capacities. She commented on the notion that equality was meant to be entrenched into the laws of the universe, but that things are unequal when it came to women. She closed with Marilyn Monroe’s famous line that those women who aspire to be equal to men lack ambition.
Before the adjudication the audience watched another clip from the best of Britain’s Got Talent. Jodi, a blind, autistic singer, had the audience on its feet when he got the golden buzzer. It was very moving.
Miss Mxoli’s adjudication followed. Before announcing the winners she gave the girls one piece of valuable advice: “Remember your speech starts from the moment you stand up. Everyone is watching you!”
Miss Mxoli congratulated Musa Daweti, Junior Winner, mentioning her strong passion. Casey Els won the Senior section. Miss Mxoli congratulated her and pointed out that it was not enough to have an opinion; it was necessary to back opinions up with research. This Casey had done.
Sihlumile then thanked Miss Mxoli and presented her with flowers and a gift.

 June 17, 2019
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