Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech Analysis

Inaugural Speech by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech held major significance in many ways due mainly to the fact that before becoming the first black president of South Africa, he had spent decades fighting against apartheid and enduring 22 years of prison. This speech was presented in order to signify a new era and a new page in the history of South Africa. Every word and sentence was carefully chosen in order to serve a specific purpose and address different audiences both within South Africa and to the world.

What is the purpose of Mandela’s speech?

The purpose of Mandela’s speech was not simply to address the nation as their new president and give gratitude to those who put him there but instead to make a statement that South Africa was going to make immense changes and unify to show the world what the nation could truly do in order to become a land of hope, freedom, justice and equality for all.

Throughout the speech, Mandela very carefully and specifically uses both ethos and pathos in order to draw out many different emotions and encourage the nation to feel unified and prepared to make the necessary changes to overcome and rectify the deeply rooted problems which South Africans faced for all too long. Mandela, being a well-known figure in South Africa long before becoming president, had a strong established credibility within the black community.

Mandela was known for working and leading in the African National Congress (ANC) and enduring years in prison for his cause, therefore people had faith and respect for him and many looked at him almost as if he were family to them, thus gaining the nickname of grandfather to many.

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When addressing the nation, not only were people willing to listen intently, but they also truly believed he would follow through on his words and not make empty promises. His past actions helped prove him as a worthy candidate and instilled trust with in the black citizens of South Africa.

It was important that Mandela also address the white citizens of South Africa carefully in order to unite them together instead of continuing the division. Outside of South Africa, many had also heard of his achievements and work and knowing so helped Mandela structure his speech to carefully address the needs of all audiences. Of all the audiences the speech was directed to, his fellow black South Africans were the first and foremost. Addressing the emotional needs of this group was highly important and Mandela spoke regarding what they needed to hear most: change for the better and unity.

He brought up feelings of anger in remembering the past mistreatment because along with anger comes a strong motivation for change and a call to action. He spoke of specific and achievable goals, which brought forth a longing and eagerness of the community to achieve these goals. He spoke of obligation, both to themselves and to the world to make their nation just, strengthened and confident enough to sustain all hopes of a glorious life. “All this we owe both to ourselves and to the people of the world who are so well represented here today.

” By saying this, Mandela made the people of South Africa feel an urgency and responsibility to act and prove themselves to the rest of the world and also made sure that citizens of the world who were watching South Africa would make sure they were held accountable to their word. He gave South Africans a sense of pride for putting up a fight and not giving up their dreams of change, for being able to put up with so much and still come out strong and optimistic for a brighter future instead of resentful and eager for revenge.

“The time for the healing of the wounds has come, the moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come” Mandela was also able to make an immediate call to action and a necessity to act as quickly as possible. One of the most important emotions that Mandela successfully created within the people through his speech though was the feeling of hope; hope for a better future, a unified nation, better opportunities for both themselves and future generations and hope that all the changes were absolutely possible as long as they joined together to work towards these goals.

Another important audience Mandela was speaking to was the white South Africans. It was very important to address the needs of this particular group because they had been in power for decades and were feeling nervous anticipation about the immense changes in process. Mandela made sure to present his message very carefully in order to not bring up feelings of rebellion, resentment or retaliation. His goal was not to attack them and force them to pay for past actions, but instead to understand and join together in making changes for a better future for all citizens regardless of color.

“We shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world. ” He spoke carefully about the sufferings of the past so the whites could understand why change was so necessary. A feeling of guilt and shame in this group was important so they would be willing to make changes.

There was also a sense of obligation within this audience to help prove to the world that they were willing to move forward and take a hand in helping to re-build South Africa. There was guilt in past actions, because regardless of the fact that Mandela did not point blame at anyone, the world had known about the problems and causes of the problems. “The pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict. ” Hope and optimism were emotions that Mandela hoped the audience would feel as his speech came to a close.

By speaking of unity, justice, peace and freedom, he wanted the white community to join together into a multi-cultural nation that would from now on work collaboratively towards common goals in the best interests of all. One of the other groups of people Mandela was addressing in his speech were the citizens of the world. There were messages he wanted to share and feelings he wanted to bring forward within this community as well. For years, the world watched as South Africa tore itself apart in conflict, violate human rights and refuse to make changes and steps towards a new direction.

It was vital that Mandela show the world how ready they really were now to make these changes. The world was to be both an audience and a judge that South Africans would prove themselves to. By sharing the changes and goals that South Africa hoped to achieve, a sense of obligation and a necessity to show the world what they could do would emerge. He shared feelings of sadness with the world when speaking of the past and a willingness to help South Africa to achieve their goals because these goals were to be achieved not only as a nation but also as citizens of humanity and the world.

“We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to…. A common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity. ” There was also a feeling of pride within this community when Mandela addressed the gratitude he felt towards the “heroes and heroines” for helping in the fight towards change. By bringing up this sense of pride, Mandela knew it would also bring a sense of obligation to continue doing the right thing and continue to help South Africa along on its road to peace.

With a wealth of experience, knowledge and leadership, Mandela knew very clearly how important a speech like this would be to summon up the right emotions and states of mind for citizens in South Africa and the world. Every word, sentence and paragraph addressed different issues, brought up various emotions and helped to give a feeling of unity and a longing for change. By effectively combining his use of ethos and pathos, Mandela was able to address numerous audiences within one speech and send forth a common message to all.

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Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech Analysis. (2018, Jan 04). Retrieved from

Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech Analysis
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