Commentary on ‘Mandela Speech”


The author of this speech uses techniques such as repetitive sentence structure as well as emotive and figurative language in order to achieve his aim of positive cohesion among his listeners, to together built democracy and freedom.  The tone of the speech is very celebratory and confident. This is achieved by the use of words like “glory and hope” , “celebrations”,  “new-born liberty”.  The use of the words“ extraordinary human disaster” to describe the past, is meant to appeal to the emotions of the listeners and to remind them about the horrifying past.Emotive language can also be observed in the words “ skunk of the world”, “ continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination”as well as, “ Let there be peace for all, let there be work, bread, water and salt for all” In the first expression, people are compared to inferior animals. This, as well as the pledge that this will be “never again” encapsulates the whole message and mood of the speech, reminding the audience about the horrid past they all experienced, and promising them this will never happen again to them, building trust. Similarly in the second expression, very negative words are used to remind the listeners of the horrifying past and to build up emotions. Figurative language is also used, metaphors like “ the time for healing wounds has come”, “The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come”, all say that it’s time to end what was in the past and build a bright future. In these two metaphors, we can also observe the technique of repetitive sentence structure. The repetition of the word “we” is a clever technique, which unifies the audience together, contributing to the effect of cohesion.  This can also be observed in the last line, “God bless Africa.” , which appealing to the whole continent, unifies the whole of Africa.  The metaphor used at the end of the speech, “ the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement”  builds up the celebratory and proud tone of this speech, saying that the magnitude, and the meaning of this achievement will never decrease.  In this speech, the language is very emotive and figurative, with a lot of strong words and metaphors. This, as well as the techniques used by the author, such as the repetitive sentence structure, builds up the celebratory and proud tone and mood of this speech, also unifying all the people listening to it by appealing to their emotions.

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