oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - Songs that shaped the struggle : a rhetorical analysis of South African struggle songs

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



Struggle songs are a fundamental part of South Africa's political past, present and future. Being such significant entities in South African politics, much research has been done into tracing the history and significance of liberation songs. However, to date, not enough scholarly work exists which has discussed struggle songs as musical texts, and which looks at the fundamental argument that permeates each of them as such. The consequence of this is that very few political actors have been able to harness the persuasive power inherent in struggle songs in South Africa's post-apartheid dispensation. Currently it is only the governing African National Congress and its alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist party, that appear to have the monopoly on the use of struggle songs. There have been attempts by the opposing Democratic Alliance to use these songs in campaigning, however because the party does not yet fully understand how these songs function as tools of persuasion, and because the party has not yet managed to effectively utilise the historical memory imbedded in these songs to their advantage, these efforts have not yielded the desired outcome. Thus, a research paper such as this provides a model of how one can begin to analyse the elements that make struggle songs 'work', and then in turn utilise this knowledge to better persuade would-be supporters and voters in future.

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