U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia finances TV debate series


The U.S. Embassy to Ethiopia, in collaboration with the International Republican Institute, is pleased to announce the TV debate series “Warka: The Big Debate,” which will air on Kana TV on Sundays from May 2-23, 2021.

Similar to the way Ethiopians used to gather under a Warka tree, an indigenous fig tree, to conduct debates, 16 Addis Ababa University students will gather to trade ideas and solutions through respectful, moderated dialogue on “Warka: The Big Debate.”

“Warka” is a debate competition showcasing eight teams of two individuals across eight, 45-minute episodes. The show builds on the structure and culture of Ethiopian traditional debates, with a modern twist, to encourage Ethiopian youth to be peacefully involved in discussing key political, economic, and social issues that affect their lives and their communities. The show will also air on Ahadu radio on Mondays at 10AM and on Saturdays at 3PM starting on May 3.

“Warka: The Big Debate” aspires to increase Ethiopians’ confidence in expressing their opinions and engaging constructively and peacefully with opposing views. It will also provide viewers with an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of diverse topics facing Ethiopia by watching and hearing these talented teams present various angles of contemporary issues, from social media monitoring to climate policy to continental trade agreements.

At the same time, the audience will see first-hand examples of constructive debate, while watching students contemplate a range of factors that should be considered when discussing an issue and making policy decisions. The program also aspires to encourage students to nurture the culture of respectful debate both in schools and in the community.

These teams of student leaders featured on the show demonstrate the importance of encouraging dialogue and the value of youth engagement in the constructive discussion of issues facing Ethiopia.

The 16 debate participants were selected out of 200 students who originally auditioned in 2020. Prior to airing the show, the students were provided training and mentorship. The show is produced by Lapis Communications and Kana TV.