Fri | Sep 22, 2017

New Champion For Rita Marley Public Speaking Competition.

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 2:00 AMShereita Grizzle
From left: Iris Cooper, Stephen Marley, Rosemary Duncan, Asley ‘Grub’ Cooper, and Amina Blackwood Meeks.

This year's staging of the annual Rita Marley Foundation (JA) Public Speaking Competition was, according to organisers, a cut above the rest.

Held recently at the main library's multifunctional room at the University of the West Indies (Mona), the event, now in its third year, saw defending champion Bobby Francis of York Castle High School losing his title to Oshnel Bryan of Wolmer's Boys' School. Bryan argued his way to the title, eloquently holding off strong competition from Francis and Jamaica College's Rolando Alberts.

After being given 30 minutes to formulate and give opinions on Jamaica's crime problem, the three finalists all offered arguments on how to possibly eradicate the crime problem gripping the country.

In his speech, Bryan argued that instead of looking to the Government for solutions, Jamaicans should begin to be the change they want to see, encouraging them to 'be their brother's keeper'.

"Excuse my naivety, but I think the answer is so simple. The answer is not putting more funds into our security budget. The answer is not increased police presence in communities. The answer is not even abridging rights. The answer to solving our crime problem is in us," he posited. "The responsibility for solving crime is in us. We must be the change that we seek. As Jamaicans, we have a responsibility. That responsibly calls us to be our brother's keeper. It means we must report crime and talk about these issues. It means we must speak up against issues relating to our women and children."

The competition was tight, but in the end, the judges - Professor Verene Sheperd, Terisa Thompson, Gregory Simms, and Dr Kwame Boafo - decided Bryan would be the 2017 champion. In addition to the title, Bryan walked away with $20,000 cash, among other prizes. Francis and Alberts were second and third, respectively.