Pronominal Choices in Mandela's Speech at The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: A Critical Discourse Analysis


The present study aims to offer a linguistic evaluation of Nelson Mandela’s speech at The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on the 4th of December 1997 in Pretoria and its mode of engagement with the context of its discursive situation. The study follows Critical Discourse Analysis (henceforth CDA) to investigate pronominal choices made by Mandela in his speech and to what extent such choices help in creating identity, power and solidarity. It discloses how President Mandela uses pronominal forms, as a rhetorical device, in his speech to construct various identities to convey his political and humanistic stance, and solidarity with the Palestinian people. It also investigates how those pronominals used by the speaker operate as linguistic indicators of inclusion and exclusion. This notion of clusivity is very much related to the way these pronouns express inclusionary and exclusionary reference to the actors presented in a discursive presentation of reality in a soci-political context. Therefore, the speaker is capable of establishing a representation of the self and placing the discursive actors either inside or outside the deictic centre in particular historical and socio-ideological circumstances. The use of Fairclough’s (1989) three-tier analytical framework, i.e., description, interpretation and explanation help reconstruct the message and the ideological power of the speech. The study casts light on the relationship that Mandela (the addressor) establishes with the audience (the addressee), whom the speech is addressed to. The results show that pronominal choices made by Mandela in his speech helped him as creator of solidarity and as a persuasive strategy as well.