Topic

Nelson Mandela’s speech “I Am Prepared to Die” focuses on black South Africans’ struggle for equal social and political rights.  The speech is a defence address delivered in front of the Court, as Nelson Mandela was on trial  for sabotage and treason against the state. Consequently, all the specific issues the speaker discusses are in relation to the accusations brought against him.

In what follows, we will look at each of the issues the speaker addresses and how they connect with the overall topic of the s…

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The actions of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of ANC

Nelson Mandela was accused of sabotage and treason as a one of the leaders of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), a nationalist party promoting equal rights for non-white South Africans.

While the speaker admits to the accusation of sabotage and use of violence, a good part of his speech focuses on how Umkhonto we Sizwe was formed, his role in the organisation and its relationship with the ANC. This part of the speech focuses on the use of non-violence versus the use of violence:

I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love…

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ANC’s policy and its relationship with the Communist Party

Another part of the speech focuses on African nationalism versus communism. At that time, communism was outlawed in South Africa and the speaker and the ANC party were accused of being communists.

To reject the accusations, the speaker explores the differences between the doctrines of the ANC and of the Communist Party in South Africa: “The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has…

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Argumentation

“I am Prepared to Die” is constructed using direct argumentation, meaning the speaker express his views and arguments directly and openly. This is appropriate to the context, as the speech is a defence statement during a trial (although the speaker also had a defence lawyer who represented him in court).

At the start of the speech, Mandela openly refutes some of the accusations against him: “At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle …

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