Sat | Mar 6, 2021

Rita Marley readies youth for public speaking competition

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Rita Marley.

Thirteen promising orators will represent their high schools at the sixth annual Rita Marley Foundation (JA) Public Speaking Competition, slated for February 14 at The University of the West Indies, Mona. This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of educators and professionals. Students are gearing up for the first round of competition, which will feature the topic, ‘Technological and Economic Advancement of Humankind is Paramount. Natural Resources Must Be Exploited to Achieve that Goal’. The budding orators are free to support or oppose the moot, articulating their views within a six-minute time frame. Three will be selected for the finals.

With the event being held as part of celebrations for Bob Marley’s ‘earthstrong’, last Thursday, the Marley family matriarch, who was in the island for the celebrations, invited candidates to the Rita Marley Foundation’s office for a pre-event meeting and cake-cutting. In motivating participants, Rita said: “Be positive, work hard, and remain focused on your goals. You are all winners.”

Entrants excited

William Knibb Memorial High School’s Ramona Hastings joyously stated, “I would like to express my gratitude for the invitation to participate in Bob Marley’s celebration. I’m a big fan of Mrs Rita Marley’s legacy and contribution to reggae music and Jamaica, on a whole, as well as that of her late husband, the Honourable Robert Nesta Marley.”

St George’s College’s Wendy-Ann Ivey said: “It is an honour to meet the iconic Dr Rita Marley. I am thankful for the many opportunities the Rita Marley Foundation (JA) presents to the youths. Last year I represented Westwood High School and earned second place. This year I am aiming to do even better.”

Rosemary Duncan, manager at the Rita Marley Foundation, said, “This highly successful event has produced outstanding orators, including 2016 winner York Castle High School’s Bobby Francis, who went on to win the Optimist International Caribbean District Oratorical Contest. [He] was a finalist at Optimist International Oratorical Contest in St Louis, United States, and now serves as junior mayor of St Ann’s Bay.”

Current title holder, Jamaica College’s Romain Byran, is preparing to retain the coveted title, trophy, $50,000 cash and other prizes. However, he will have to ward off formidable challengers Ardenne High School’s David Hamilton; York Castle High’s Shawvick Barrett; Wolmer’s Girls’ Lori-Ann McLawrence; Wolmer’s Boys’ Jean-Claude Walters-Dunn; Papine High School’s Jakonia Josiah; Marcus Garvey Technical High School’s Sedonia Llewellyn; William Knibb Memorial’s Ramona Hastings; Edith Dalton High School’s Kerry-Ann Lee; St Catherine High’s Crystal Byrosingh; St George’s College’s Wendy-Ann Ivey; St Hugh’s High’s Reajean Bennett; and Westwood’s Britney Ellis.

All participants will be awarded cash and prizes. Government representatives, diplomats, and musicians Isha Bel, Bongo Herman, and Grub Cooper will grace the event.

The foundation extended special thanks to various sponsors for their substantial investment and support. They are National Council on Reparations, Wisynco Group, Leeds family (Las Vegas), Merlene Heholt (Jamaica Fire Equipment), Xars Trucking, Spanish Court Hotel, Viking Productions, Caribbean Cream (Kremi), Devon House, Suzie’s Bakery, The Stationery Centre, and Tastee Jamaica.