I Am Prepared to Die


This study guide will help you analyse the speech “I Am Prepared to Die” by Nelson Mandela. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances and intention.

Presentation of the speech

Title: “I Am Prepared to Die”

Speaker: Nelson Mandela

Where: Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa

When: 20th of April, 1964, at the opening of his defence in the Rivonia Trial.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and South Africa’s first post-apartheid President (1994-1999). At the time of the speech, he was an active member of the ANC Party and a leader of the military group Umkhonto we Sizwe, with which he led a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. He was arrested in 1963 and put on trial accused of treason and sabotage. This speech was delivered at the opening of his trial, known as the Rivonia Trial. He was convicted to life imprisonment, but was released 27 years later.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


Nelson Mandela brings up  numerous examples of facts and statistical evidence which represent an appeal to the Court’s reason.

For example, he mentions various statistics that show how black South Africans are discriminated against by the apartheid legislation: “Forty per cent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and, in some cases, drought-stricken Reserves…”; “He showed that the average monthly wage is R32.24 and that 46 per cent of all African families in Johannesburg do not earn enough to keep them going.”


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I Am Prepared to Die

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