oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - The wind of change (the original text) : South Africa - white voices

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



When, on 3 February 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) addressed a supposedly informal gathering of the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, at a "luncheon", he delivered a speech he had already given a month earlier in Accra. Barring a few changes. These changes alone catapulted the speech into another rhetorical dimension: it per-formed politics. Indeed, the speech delivered in Cape Town had an international impact its antecedent delivery in Accra could not, and did not have. It raised the Liberation movements' hopes for a steadfast support by Britain. It was a precipitating agent for a surge of revolt, and the repression that followed: the Sharpeville massacre took place shortly afterwards. It was the prologue to thirty years of emergency, until F.W. de Klerk's speech at the same Parliament in February 1990, and the liberation of Nelson Mandela. Macmillan's speech is an essential, if paradoxical moment in South Africa's rhetorical foundation. The version presented here is the exact transcription of Macmillan's own original type-script used by him to deliver his speech, together with hand written notes and corrections. It offers a unique insight in the rhetorical processes of speech delivery, and evinces a care for kairos that should never elude politicians faced with seizing up the moment and performing politics through rhetoric.

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