November 22, 2016
Nelson Mandela’s “Free At Last” Speech
Nelson Mandela was elected the first President of the newlyindependent South Africa on May 10, 1994. This was after being apolitical prisoner for 27 years. Nelson Mandela made significantcontributions to the war against apartheid. The election of NelsonMandela was a sign of relief and justice for many black citizens inthe country who had suffered various injustices. On his inauguralspeech, Nelson Mandela delivered an outstanding speech of hope to hiscitizens which employed different persuasive words. He used severalrhetoric techniques to convince and please the audiences. The use ofrhetoric`s further allowed him to effectively deliver his intendedmessage in spoken form. This paper will analyze the rhetoric in the“Free At Last” speech delivered by Nelson Mandela.
Mandela’s free at last speech was delivered at Carlton Hotel afterthe ANC had won the elections. During the colonial rule, Africanswere subjected to discrimination and segregation, infamously known asApartheid. This strict policy enacted by the colonialists was solelybased on the theme of racial segregation, with the South Africanmajority, who were black Africans, being at the receiving end of therepression. Before the speech, Mandela had been sentenced to lifeimprisonment together with his co-accused Umkhonto we Sizwe.
The “Free at last speech” particularly targeted the native blackAfricans in South Africa, with the tone of the speech directedtowards the majority of the people. On the other hand, during theirarrest, the world increasingly taunted the Apartheid policies by thecolonialists in South Africa, a factor that contributed to thenumerous protests against the vice. The increased global pressuresfor the release of Mandel and his co-accused were significant factorsthat shaped the theme of the speech, further including the world asthe audience. Nelson Mandela`s inaugural address was effective inpersuading his audience because he effectively used variousrhetorical techniques such as ethos, pathos, and Anaphora.
One rhetorical technique which stands out during Mandela’s speechis the use of pathos. Speakers usually integrate pathos in theirspeech so as to appeal to the emotional needs of their audience.First, it is noticeable that within each sentence, he repeats thewords "I," "we," and "our"(Emersonkent.com, webpage). Mandela positioned the concept of thisspeech on the theme of happiness and gratitude. In more than twooccasions in his speech, Mandela thanked different people andorganizations for ensuring that South Africa realized its ambition ofdemocracy. In the twist of skepticism, a rhetoric device, Mandelaacknowledges the people who should have been there to celebrate thejoyous day. Interestingly, he does not include any of the Dutchcolonialists. Mandela speaks, "I am personally indebted and paytribute to some of South Africa`s greatest leaders including JohnDube, Josiah Gumede, GM Naicker, Dr. Abduraman, Chief Lutuli, LilianNgoyi, Helen Joseph, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane, Chris Hani, andOliver Tambo" (Emersonkent.com, webpage). This illustrates themanner in which the speaker uses rhetoric to persuade and please theemotions of the audience. He depicts the tradition of the Africanculture of gratitude to the deceased, more so who contributed to thesuccess of a course. The particular choice of words that the speakeruses resonates with the emotional moods of the audience, such as"patient determination," and "common destiny.”
Mandela`s speech also contain some elements of ethos Mandelaacknowledged that the country was facing problems. To depict just howsoon the ANC leadership would begin to carry out their mandate,Mandela says, "Tomorrow, the entire ANC leadership and I will beback at our desks"(Emersonkent.com, webpage). He defines the freedom as achance for the leadership to move with speed to eliminate thechallenges encountered by the Africans. In analyzing the recording ofthis speech, one can denote that the Johannesburg audience wasyearning to understand the plans that Mandela had for the country nowthat he was elected to lead. Consequently, rhetoric is displayed inthe interaction and connection that the speaker develops with theaudience, hence encouragement and affirmation. It is also evidentthat Mandela is aware of the social and political problems that hisfellow countrymen are facing and is determined to ensure that thesituation changes.
Lastly, the speech effectively makes use of anaphora, whereby thereis a lot of repetition of specific words to create emphasis.Originally, the speech was written to celebrate the win that AfricanNational Congress had registered in the election. However, Mandeladoes not only thank those who voted for his party but also those whoparticipated in the process of transitioning the country todemocracy, arguing that it was a win for them. Some of the repeatedwords include “Let there be justice for all” and never, never andnever again." (Emersonkent.com, webpage) All these strategiesare aimed at creating emphasis and motivating the audience that eventhough the country has passed a lot, there shall never be a repeat ofthe same. The resulting impact of this technique is that the intendedmessage gets branded into the audiences head.
In conclusion, the speech depicts the classic application ofrhetoric in its language, verbal strategies, and ultimate delivery.Mandela effectively utilized techniques such as ethos, pathos, andAnaphora. Moreover, this speech stands the test of time because ithighlights the spirit that signified the course of democracy in SouthAfrica- togetherness, development, and equality. From this speech, wecan learn that the speaker has to utilize a blend of rhetoric devicesto persuade the attentions and emotions of the audience. Lastly, theanalysis above strengthens the position of the paper that the “FreeAt Last” speech by Nelson Mandela depicts the appropriateapplication of rhetoric literary styles.
Emersonkent.com "Inaugural Address – Nelson Mandela 1994".Emersonkent.Com, 2016,http://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/inaugural_address_mandela.htm.