n African Journal of Rhetoric - Nelson Mandela's 1990 address to the U.S. Congress : a universal appeal to human dignity

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


In this essay I illustrate how Mandela's appeal for human rights is grounded in arguments about inherent human dignity and I combine aspects of Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy and Christian moral philosophy with Ubuntu, an African philosophy of ethics. In this analysis, I argue that Mandela transformed his appeal for human dignity into demands for economic rights through the rhetoric of economic moralism. I assert that due to his advocacy, principles of economic equality based on human dignity have taken a stronger hold in international law and national constitutions and have been used to expand economic rights for citizens of the world.

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