Early last month, students from the Faculty of Law of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), defeated their peers from the Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) in the global Jessup Moot Court competition to snatch a place to represent the country in the finals to be held in Washington DC next December.
It is very encouraging that universities in Africa can also compete and gain visibility at par with similar world class schools.  There was a move, sometimes in the 1990s, to discourage the establishment of universities in Africa, advice that was bluntly rejected by the heads of state and government.
Otherwise, the World Bank, of all the institutions, had come up with a suggestion that Africa should only have polytechnics and send its university level students elsewhere in the world for study.
Granted, running universities is costly but the counter argument is always that if you think “education is expensive, then try ignorance.”
UDSM’s Faculty of Law is East Africa’s oldest law school and its alumni include Uganda’s President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Kenya’s former attorney general, Amos Wako.
SAUT, on the other hand, is a relatively young institution but draws from the rich heritage and resources of the Catholic Church’s educational prestige and experience.  Moot courts, which usually simulate courtroom drama and theatrics, usually require intensive research on the “trial” subject, teamwork and the individual abilities of the ‘attorneys’ and ‘jurists’ to argue ‘their cases’ and weigh ‘the evidence,’ all in a hypothetical context but in a way that makes legal sense.
Thus, winning a moot court ‘trial’ is the mental and intellectual equivalent of clinching victory in a wrestling competition.
Unfortunately, ordinary members of society rarely accord intellectual contests the same level of interest as they do for the physical performances. Granted, professional ethics discourage celebrity-style lawyers but competitions are competitions, be they mental or physical.
It is my humble hope therefore, that society shall follow with almost equal zeal and interest the performance of the country’s young envoys in the finals of the Jessup Moot Court Competition.
 The event brings together nearly 600 teams from universities around the world with over 2000 competitors. By contrast, the World Cup only brings together 32 teams but during those finals, the whole world talks almost about nothing except that cup.
There is no doubt about the power of sport to bring about enduring bonds between the individual competitors and the sporting nations but it shouldn’t act as the world’s only social  invention for advancing global peace and harmony.
Most moot court participants go on to occupy quite influential positions in life. And, it is the same people who most likely would meet again in real life challenges. As a general rule, most problems are usually solved even before they are tabled for discussion if the parties are people who have known each other for a long time.
My advice to the country’s ambassadors is that they should not relax or be overly corrupted in their minds by their triumph over SAUT. I know they can do very well in Washington.
During his reign, Mr Wako was among other engagements a member of the International Commission of Jurists, member Council of Legal Education and member Council of International Bar Association.  UDSM is certainly a big name and the country’s envoys carry an equally enormous responsibility.

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