Rhetorical Analysis: Nelson Mandela's Inagural Speech

Topics: Rhetoric, South Africa, Writing Pages: 3 (982 words) Published: November 7, 2008
Mariel Harrison
Professor Daniel McGavin
Rhetorical Analysis
ENC1102 M/W 11AM

On May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa's first black President, in that country's first truly democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and as a direct result ended up spending twenty-seven years in prison. He became a symbol of freedom and equality, while the apartheid government condemned him. After his release in February, 1990, he helped lead the transition into a multi-racial democracy for South Africa. The purpose of this communication is to look at Mandela's effectiveness in his inaugural speech, which occurred May 10th, 1994 in Pretoria, through both the written speech as well as his presentation of that speech . Mandela uses primarily the channels of ethos (character) and pathos (emotion). Through careful examination of both Mandela’s written work (his speech) and his actual presentation of that speech, I believe that Mandela’s written speech is a very effective piece of communication and thus argument. On the other hand, the way that Mandela presents and argues it, although effective, has its flaws.

Mandela’s written speech is eloquently written, in flowing sentences with dramatic and convincing language. His writing is uses many analogies. These are effective because it brings almost a third dimension to his speech. For example, “each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.” Here he uses not only an analogy, but also relates it intimately towards the people of South Africa. Not only here, but through his writing he relates well to the people of South Africa (his audience) well. He speaks directly to them in fact, identifying himself as one of them. This can be seen through Mandela referring to himself as “I” and to his audience not just in the informal, “you,” to break down a barrier, but...

Cited: University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center
< http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Inaugural_Speech_17984.html >
YouTube – Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural Speech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5LcxkNpkns
AmericanRhetoric: Rhetorical Devices in Sound
< http://www.americanrhetoric.com/rhetoricaldevicesinsound.htm >
Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia. Nelson Mandela
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela >
Lunsford, Andrea and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s An Argument. Boston: Bedford, 2007.
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