By Miriam Rioba
A win is a win, regardless of how you look at it. KNDC marking 10 years is both a collective and an individual win for each and everyone of us. My name is Maseke Mirriam Rioba. In this space, I am a debater, a public speaker, and actively a public speaking trainer and adjudicator – and this is my KNDC story.
In this season, I celebrate KNDC’s impact on my knowledge and exposure. For some of us, KNDC was a space to voice our thoughts and opinions. I come from a society where exposure to global politics, climate change, human rights or even feminism are not on top of our priority. We are more concerned with the mundane patterns of life; birth, school, marriage, babies, and eventually death. However, I always craved knowledge and information from a young age. Not just acquiring, but also sharing, exploring, unlearning. Over the years, KNDC has exposed me to conversations that have me shutting up, because that power of silence allows me to learn. While KNDC may be pillared on articulating a better Kenya, they have also played a key role in informing youth, and exposing them to networks they would not have imagined, or gotten to. I know many of us, who did not have the privilege of understanding the complexities of society, politics and basic speech, can today attest that KNDC shaped them in some way, however small.
In this season, I celebrate KNDC’s impact on my growth. I am serving as the Chief Adjudicator – Public Speaking, for PAUDC 2022. PAUDC is one of the few regional tournaments whose abbreviations we do not need to elaborate, because everyone gets it. Prior to, I can associate my name with PAUDC 2021 (Hosted by Botswana), Uganda Debate Nationals, EAUDC, Mwalimu Nyerere Invitational Schools Invitational Debate Championship, Elle Parle Women’s Open, and Mashujaa Opens. In all the above mentioned, I served in the Central Adjudication Panel. This is a win, my win, and this win materialized through KNDC.
2016 was the year I got introduced to the KNDC family, but my turning point was during the 2018 scholars’ festival, everything went into an upward spiral. In 2018, I won public speaking champion for the Scholars festival. Through KNDC, negotiated with my then school – JKUAT to sponsor two teams to attend UDN in Uganda, where I scooped first runners up, and also attend PAUDC 2018 where I emerged best female public speaker overall. This path was my direct ticket into training and adjudication and it has opened me up to a lot of opportunities along the way. In full retrospect, many of us in this circuit have adjudicated, trained, and participated at national, regional and global levels as a direct or indirect result of KNDC. The mere association to the name has opened doors to sponsorships, internship opportunities, employment opportunities, and an expansion in taking up debate and public speaking spaces.
Aside from wins, I value the friendships created. In a society that treasures conditional associations with little room for error, I love that KNDC has been a fighting ground on the stage, with unconditional friendships, some that have metamorphosized into relationships and families. So perhaps beyond the professional shaping, it has been a great familial foundation, at least for some of us. I am also grateful for the original lot of KNDC trainers whose hands I passed through, the likes of the late Lodenyi, Nick, Adero, and Fred Oginga. These were people who trained us with passion, and gave us reason to continue keep standing in the gap for novice speakers who now will pass it on to the next generation.
In my observation, over the past 7 years that I have actively engaged with KNDC, we are all family, who have benefited differently and continue to reap of the fruits from the vision the founders had. I am glad I have evolved into my own name, but regardless, I recognize and respect the space that gave me a chance to be, in a world where being is a privilege.