The Mandela Debate is an intervarsity debate series in which students representing their respective institutions and Africa Societies debate issue relating to justice, freedom, democracy, global development. The Mandela Debate was created in recognition of the work of Nelson Mandela and other global leaders such as Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi Julius Nyerere, Wangari Maathai, Martin Luther King, Daniel O’Connell, Friedrich Douglas, whose dedication to freedom, democracy and justice continue to inspire this generation of students. The aim of the Mandela debate series is to inspire students to think about national and global challenges and lasting solutions to these challenges.

Motions that have been debated over the years include:

  1. “African communities and businesses can never progress due to their internalized inferiority complexes” (2018 – Final)
  2. “This house believes that the current generation of students are not revolutionary” (2015)
  3. “For Development, Trade is better than Aid” (2014)


Africa Societies are responsible for organizing the Mandela Africa Society Debate in their respective Colleges and Universities. The societies should cooperate with ASAI, debating societies and other interested clubs/societies within their Colleges and universities and their College/University administration to ensure the smooth running of the debate(s). It is important that organising committees draw from the experience and network of ASAI, debating societies and clubs who run similar activities as well as from individuals and organizations within their universities/ colleges and in the wider community.
ASAI provides financial support to Africa Societies for the organisation to offset the cost of organising and publicising the debate.

It is important that Africa society and other organizers of the debate in college organize ‘build up’ activities to the main debate day.  These activities help to advertise the upcoming debate and garner interest for the event. Such activities include conducting a survey to get the motion that will be debated, organizing mini-debate competitions to get the members of two debating teams (Proposition and Opposition).

Organizing committees can also prepare training sessions for the debaters and other members interested in acquiring debating skills.  ASAI and respective Africa societies should cooperate to ensure that each debate is conducted to a high standard.  


UCD were the winners of the 2018 Mandela debate series. They faced NUI Maynooth in the final and debated the motion “African communities and businesses can never progress due to their internalized inferiority complexes”.


The Mandela Debate is sponsored by Concern Ireland, whose continued support and partnership has ensured the success of the debate throughout the years. ASAI is open and enthusiastic about partnering with other interested organisations to spread the reach and impact of the Mandela debates.

Join in the debate

You are All welcome to witness the young scholars’ battle of ideas.