n African Journal of Rhetoric - Rhetorical strategies in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's first inaugural address

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


The upsurge of scholars' interest in the genre of presidential discourse, especially how presidents exploit the mediative and interactive nature of presidential rhetoric to construct social reality revolves around the notion of the language of power. This paper examines how President Johnson-Sirleaf deploys certain rhetorical strategies in her first inaugural speech of 16th January 2006 to manipulate the Liberian people's mindset to embrace her vision and imbibe the attitude necessary for national rebirth and reconstruction in post-war Liberia. Applying the principles of van Dijk's (2006) socio-cognitive model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), the study interrogates the manipulative nature of the inaugural address even when it appears that the speaker is mobilising the people for a common goal. The study observes that asymmetrical relations between the rhetor and the audience offer the former the latitude to exercise some kind of control on the latter on issues of social representation as to how language could be deployed to mediate what the audience can know, believe and perhaps think in political processes.

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