n African Journal of Rhetoric - Rhetoric, autobiography, and iconography : a critical decolonial ethical tribute to political formation of Nelson Mandela as global icon

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's autobiography entitled: , reveals him as master in use of symbolism and persuasion which privileged the paradigm of peace, humanism, and harmony over the imperial-racist-apartheid paradigm of hatred and war. This article is based on a re-reading of Mandela's autobiography as a treatise in the use of symbolism and persuasive critical decolonial ethics that positions Mandela as a leading light in the anti-colonial struggle for freedom. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela emerges in the autobiography as a political actor, orator, and selfless leader, whose rhetoric and actions provided an antidote to the Euro-North American-centric modernity's master morality predicated on racial profiling and hierarchization of people. His iconic status emerged and crystallized around his active participation in an epic people's struggle against racism and colonialism backed up by a powerful and persuasive political-humanistic rhetoric as well as effective use of symbolism. This is evident from Mandela's practical and symbolic overtures to the erstwhile white racists and post-1994 reconciliatory politics which were aimed at hailing them back to a new humanity predicated on inclusive non-racial democratic society.

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