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Rhetorical Analysis of Nelson Mandela's Release Speech

1. Language- reached out to local south africans by cheering with Zulu words such as "amandla awethu" which means
"power to the people" or "power is in our hands." It was a political slogan, to boost the moral of
people and the audience. Africa has 11 official
languages, and the Dutch only allowed locals to speak Dutch (Afrikaans), if you were found speaking another
language you were imprisoned and possibly killed.
he used english as his speech language however, is because it is a universal language. After his
release, Africa added english as one of the former languages. Government is encouraging local use of
english in the education system. Sign of freedom and move towards democracy.

2. Picture- fist further demonstrates power to the people. call for unity, let's stand together, strong, embrace
happiness and freedom. Smile demonstrates warmth. connection to "amandla awethu"
3. Intended Audience- a global audience, mostly to the fellow south africans, but the rest of the world was
watching, after his release from prison. He salutes several people, organizations- thanking people and
encouraging them to keep fighting for their cause- freedom.
4. Rhetorical problems- the slow pace and long speech might not have been ideal for a crowd who wanted more
enthusiasm and celebration because of his release from prison, but he uses in order to demonstrate the importance and significance of every word and every person mentioned in his speech.
5. Main Idea/Thesis- thanking everybody who has supported him and freedom, asking for their continued support,
persuading and leading towards an ideal of freedom. Words of encouragement to the people, making people feel
important, influential in the struggle. Attempts to engage several dichotomies; black and white, leaders and
workers. "Apartheid has no future."
6. Ethos- he's been arrested for his passion towards the goal of freedom and equality. He portrays himself as a
simply as an instrument for the people. They are the drive behind the struggle towards freedom; he is a "humble
servant" rather than a "prophet." He proves his loyalty and self-lessness by addressing the pain and suffering
of others involved in the movement rather than concentrating on his own perils behind bars (27 years). He recognizes the
controversial views of armed struggle but defends and is in "full agreement" with strategies employed in order
to end the violence of apartheid.


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First of all, I would like to say that this is a great analysis of Nelson Mandela's speech. You bring up many strong points. I was particularly interested in your first section concerning language, especially now as we are finishing up this class by video coferencing with another country in English. Obviously it is very powerful for Nelson Mandela to use words from the Zulu language in his speech because it does speak so closely to the people of South Africa. However, I found it equally as important that he use English not only as a means to demonstrate freedom, but also so that he could share his feelings to the world at large. English is becoming such a universal language, and I was really reminded of this during our video conferences with Sweden. Great analysis and great presentation to the group on Monday!


I really enjoyed your analysis of Nelson Mandela's speech. It was very thorough and it brings out the most prominent points about Nelson's speech. It is true; he appeals to his audience very much by using words such as "power to the people." And even though he has this established ethos and authority, he appeals to his audience by relating to his people and being humble and modest. And most importantly, I liked the way you delivered your analysis! You had a great choice of words to convey your argument. It was as strong and convincing as Nelson's speech.