The rhetoric of Kwame Nkrumah: analysis of his political speeches

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The study focuses on an examination of the political speeches of Kwame Nkrumah. The primary data of the study comprises audio-recorded and five volumes of selected published speeches of Nkrumah. Beyond these sources, the study explores the historical, political, and diplomatic circumstances which gave birth to Nkrumah's rhetorical inventions. In terms of the theoretical framework, the study applied three main correlative approaches: Aristotle (2007) on Levels of Proofs and Rhetorical Regimes, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca (1969) on Argument and Lloyd Bitzer on Situation (1968).Six major speeches were chosen for the study. They were selected chronologically ranging from 1950 to 1964. They were analyzed, applying the vertical and horizontal rhetorical structures. The study sought to find out the rhetorical strategies and tools, which Nkrumah employed in his political speeches. The study revealed that as part of his logical strategy, Nkrumah regularly employed logical association. With this tool, Nkrumah associates two entities either positively or negatively for the purpose of achieving good or bad publicity for a giving entity. The finding demonstrates that Nkrumah employed negative association in his political speeches to tag his Ghanaian and Western political adversaries to engender negative image for them whilst he used positive association to enhance his ethos. The study also showed that Nkrumah employed the argument of inclusion of the part in the whole. This argument becomes central to the subject of Africa's unity as Nkrumah argues for continental unity in Addis Ababa. In this argument, the importance of Africa is brought to the fore whilst minimizing the focus on individual states. Thus, through his argumentation, Nkrumah deepens the continental discussion which seeks to project the debate on Africa's freedom. The study also demonstrated that Nkrumah repeatedly applies symbolism as a strategic means of establishing his ethos as well as creating solidarity with his audience. The study further established that Nkrumah employs the collective memory of his audience to create pathos in his address. Lastly, the study showed that Nkrumah repeatedly used his messages to address composite audiences both immediate and remote.

Includes bibliographical references.