Debates sharpen my skills for moot competitions
One of the first things you will notice about Macharia Mukono is his calm, cool, collected demeanor. Then you will discover his eloquence. During the interview at the Student Centre rooftop, Macharia speaks succinctly about his interest in law and debates. The second-year student at the Strathmore Law School (SLS) is rightly utilising his skills in public speaking in the debate club. Last year, he represented the University in the annual Pan-African Universities debate championship held in Arusha, whose theme was, “Umoja na Uhuru.”
Debate and moot court link
The debates created an open space to discuss contemporary issues. “We tackled ideologies that are currently the talk of town as well as events, such as the journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s case, which are shaping the world,” he explains.
The debate club participates in various debate competitions in Kenya and beyond. “We had a team that went to Uganda for the East African debates. We also took part in local debates such as the Kenya National debates and inter-varsity debates. We are the Kenya National and the East Africa debate champions. From the experience we had in Arusha, we realised we need to put in more practice,” he says. Their strategy this year is to have more practice sessions during the week so as to improve their speaking proficiency.
Apart from the debate club, he uses his skills in moot court competitions. He is currently preparing for the All-Kenyan Moot Court Competition that will take place towards the end of March this year. “The two, debates and moot courts, complement one another; debating helps me sharpen my skills for the moots.”
Macharia is the last born of three siblings. Since childhood, he has always wanted to dive into the legal profession; no other course has ever appealed to him. “I preferred a field that would help me use my oral skills. I enjoy debates and activities that involve public speaking. I also felt becoming a lawyer was one way I could help people. My older cousin, a lawyer, who I used to spend a lot of time with, also had a hand in my choice.”
He initially had not thought of coming to SLS until the Dean, Dr. Luis Franceschi, gave a session to his high school class. “When he spelled out the resources, facilities and career prospects available here, I got interested. My parents also played a role in my coming here. I needed their encouragement.”
Constant and intense study
Commenting on the course work that the students handle, he explains that it requires one to constantly study and keep abreast with topical issues. “The content is bulky but it pays off to cover ground in the early years of study as it feeds into the senior years. The most interesting unit I have done so far is constitutional law. We dealt with contemporary issues such as the supreme court petition during the election period so it was a good time to study the unit. I have enjoyed the ethical units because I like to engage in ethics and social political philosophy and I look forward to the units on human rights, sports and entertainment, and public international law.”
He says that the people on campus, faculty, classmates and the administration staff are what make the University what it is. “People here have diverse interests. And if you take part in extra-curricular activities, your time at Strathmore is enriched.”
What are his thoughts on how the law will make Kenya different or better? “The law is a tool that we can use to make people’s lives better. It’s only effective if first, those who make it do so with the right agenda in mind and second, if it is effected well. We have good laws but they fail at implementation. If both of these facets work here will be equitable distribution of resources and peaceful co-existence.”
Macharia’s future plans after graduation, though still a few years away, include delving into human rights, commercial or constitutional law and into the world of academia because he revels in elucidating ideas.
He is currently reading the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. He highly recommends it especially to those who are introverted. “It will help you understand people more deeply and realise emotions play a big part in our day to day lives.”
This article was written by Wambui Gachari.
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