Teamwork for Nation-Building in Kenya: Strategic Manoeuvring in Uhuru Kenyatta’s Final Jamhuri Day Presidential Address

Author: Nobert Basweti (University of Nairobi, Kenya)
Speaker: Nobert Basweti
Topic: Discourse Analysis
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Presidential speeches fall under the political domain of argumentative discourse. Using the pragma-dialectical method of analysis, interpretation and evaluation, the paper examines how President Uhuru Kenyatta reasonably and effectively persuades his audience(s) in his final Jamhuri Day State Address to Kenyans in Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, Kenya. Using the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation and communication accommodation theory the paper conceptualizes the prototypical argumentative patterns of President Uhuru’s speech that demonstrates a president who exploits communicative attunement strategies to persuasively establish a relationship between Kenya’s past liberation struggles and a prosperous present and future Kenyan state. The paper aims to discuss how different presentational devices; argument schemes and patterns, and communication attunement which constitute argumentative strategic manoeuvres are influenced by the competing preconditions of the African(Kenyan)  political institution vis a vis the colonial administration and the pre-independence liberation movement versus post-independence Kenyan(African) state in the 57th Independence Day speech by Kenya’s fourth President. The paper concludes that through argument from authority the President has managed to persuasively imagine a memorabilia that bridges a Kenyan past bedeviled by the atrocities of the colonizers on liberators, previous points of aggression by fellow Kenyans and how teamwork and bold imagination can rekindle hope and nation building.

Keywords: Strategic manoeuvring, pragma-dialectics, presidential speech, communication accommodation, prototypical.