ABH L&D: Journey to the Jaw War 2024 Finals?


On Friday, 9th February 2024  the Alexander Brown Hall Literary and Debating Society (ABH L&D) advanced to the semi-finals of Jaw War, the largest public speaking event in West Africa. In the midst of the joyous uproar shrouding the moment the results were announced, one could not help but think of all that had led up to this moment. 

L-R: Folusho Olu-Adegbola and Amarachi Nwaigwe

The first day of the competition held on the 30th of January, 2024, at the New Faculty Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Technology. Understandably, of the 8 debates that held that night, the battle between ABH and Lord Tedder Hall is the one Brownites were most interested in. Ms. Amarachi Nwaigwe and Mr. Folusho Olu-Adegbola went head to head with the speakers from Lord Tedder Hall on the topic, “Should Genetic Engineering Be Used to Modify Human Embryo?” However, despite winning the round by a slim margin of 1.08%, ABH knew that they would have to put in even more work in the second leg if they were to win the debate or at least advance as the “best losers” (into the Quarter finals).

The next time they would go on stage would be in the second leg held on the 3rd of February, at the same venue. That night, the stakes were higher, as ABH needed to win by a significant point difference, to prove to their opponents that they remained a formidable opposition, and also earn them a slot in the Quarter Finals. However, this would not be the case, as they lost to Lord Tedder Hall by a cumulative point difference of 0.39%. Perhaps, it was particularly painful because the ABH L&D’s sister body – the Clinical Sciences Literary and Debating Society, had lost her debate in the inter-faculty preliminary rounds the previous night, kicking her out of the competition. Despite this, Ms. Folashade Olajuwon and Mr. Oluwatosin Adedipe, who had represented the Hall in that round, had done enough to secure a spot in the semi-finals by being the best amongst the losers.

About a week later, we are back where we started, with Ms. Amarachi Nwaigwe and Mr. Folusho Olu-Adegbola again representing the ABH L&D on stage. Only this time, it was at the Quarter Finals. The duo would be counting not just on their speaking prowess, but on the crowd’s love and familiarity for them to win the debate. It could be the deciding factor in their win over Obafemi Awolowo Hall, ably represented by previous Best Speaker, Ms. Nafisat Ogunsesan, and Ms. Lilian Osunwa.

“I pray for you today, may you or your family members not go to Nigerian prisons”. If nothing else is remembered from that night, the crowd will definitely remember these words from ABH’s first speaker, Pastor Amarachi Nwaigwe of ABH Cathedral who spoke on the topic, “ Nigerian Prison System: A Valid Tool for Reformation?”, to which she was saying “No”.

Brownites and their speaker, Dr. Olaoluwa Olorunfemi, "asserting dominance" after winning the Jaw War Quarter Finals in 2021
Brownites and their speaker, Dr. Olaoluwa Olorunfemi, “asserting dominance” after winning the Jaw War Quarter-Finals in 2021

That night, one would hear screams reminiscent of the ABH L&D’s run in 2021. The team had made it to the semi-finals and Brownites were excited about the prospects of the Hall winning the entire competition. In fact, both ABH and Clinical Sciences had made it to the Jaw War Finals, and they had the love and support of numerous Brownites the entire way.

A cross-section of Brownites cheering their speakers at the preliminary inter-hall round in 2021

Notably, the support of Brownites has dwindled since then, if the numbers at the debate rounds are anything to go by. This apathy may be attributable to the perceived undeserved losses of the Hall by Brownites in previous years. Or perhaps, it is just a continuum of the general apathy that has pervaded our beloved “compound” in recent times. Regardless of the cause, this apathy may cost the speakers from the ABH L&D, as the reactions of members of the audience may be considered a marker of their persuasiveness.

A cross-section of Brownites cheering their speakers at the preliminary inter-faculty round in 2021

Tomorrow, the 16th of February, is another time for the ABH L&D to prove themselves and their public speaking prowess again, and hopefully proceed to the Jaw War finals. They will be facing off against the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall. While one wishes them the best, one also hopes that Brownites will awake from their slumber and turn out enmasse to support their speakers at the Social Sciences Lecture Theatre.

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