Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Speech

This study guide will help you analyse Nelson Mandela’s “Inaugural Speech”. 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: “Inaugural Speech”
Speaker: Nelson Mandela
Where: Pretoria, South Africa
When: 10th of May, 1994, after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) served as the President of South Africa between 1994 and 1999. Before that, he was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and was imprisoned from 1962 to 1990. Mandela is known for his activism against racial segregation, for his philanthropic actions, and for being the first democratically elected South African President.

The inaugural speech from 1994 was delivered when he took the oath of office as President. The speech is also known under the popular title “Glory and Hope”. The day before, on 9th of May, 1994, Mandela delivered another inaugural speech in Cape Town. The two speeches should not be confused.

You can watch the full speech here.


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


Ethos is used throughout the speech, so you can find numerous examples you can use in your analysis. Ethos means the speaker appeals to trust and authority to make himself and those he mentions appear trustworthy, skilled, caring, or knowledgeable.

Nelson Mandela constructs the image of a caring but determined leader when he mentions that he is “humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege”  to have been elected President, and when he pledges to be “The first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa to lead our country out of the valley of darkness”. The last quote is also a biblical allusion which gives the speaker moral authority. The speaker also appeals to the authority of religion at the end when he states: “God bless Africa!” 

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Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Speech

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