Published on International Journal of Art, Language & Linguistics
Publication Date: August, 2019
Mwinwelle, Peter & Adukpo, John
Department of Languages, E. P. College of Education, Amedzofe
Department of Languages, Dambai College of Education
Previous studies on Kwame Nkrumah’s Speeches look at the rhetorical features and their effect on the speeches. However, such studies pay little attention to the role lexical items play in the speech and the significance of the cognitive ties among these lexical items. This paper, therefore takes a different analytical perspective by looking at the stylistic value of the use of the lexical items, the cognitive relation among these lexical items and how they reveal the meaning and effectiveness of Nkrumah’s 1957 Independence Declaration speech. The study employs the linguistic and stylistic checklist by Leech and Short (2007) which stratifies lexical items into verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs in order to reveal their stylistic value and the ideational meta-function by Halliday and Matthiessen (2014) which presents the various cognitive domains in order to reveal the thoughts of Nkrumah as frameworks for the analysis. The analysis reveals Nkrumah’s use of nouns dominates other lexical items and this indicates that his speech is more referential to the events that lead to Ghana’s independence and the events that he expects will follow. The analysis identifies lexical categories and cognitive domains which indicate the wide scope of the speech. The cognitive analysis reveals the cognitive ties among the lexical items and their meaning and implications on the speech. The study demonstrates that, the cognitive relationship among lexical items can reveal the meaning of a text. The study therefore, enhances the understanding and interpretation of Kwame Nkrumah’s speech in particular, and political discourse in general.
Keywords: Stylistics, Lexical items, Cognitive analysis & Domains.
Sharndama and Mgbemena (2015:19) define a Speech as a ‘formal talk that a person gives before an audience’. Every speech is delivered for a purpose and language serves as the primary tool of expression. Political speeches are very powerful and influential in nature. Aspects of political communication include but are not limited to only political speeches delivered by politicians but also writings of politicians, election campaigns, parliamentary debates, political interviews. Political speeches may range from campaigns, manifestoes, speeches at rallies, other election messages, inaugural speeches, victory speeches, Independence Day speeches, May Day speeches and many other speeches depending on the situation. Political discourse is becoming a popular concept especially in the area of linguistic research.
Kwame Nkrumah’s 1957 Independence declaration speech was a powerful extemporaneous oration that declared the independence of the Gold Coast. Mensah (2014:78) says that ‘independence declaration is a momentous political and a psychological activity in the life of any nation’. He continues to say that within a period of twenty–four hours, three momentous speeches had marked the oration of Nkrumah on the birth of the new nation Ghana. This paper seeks to look at of the second speech which declares Ghana’s independence a few minute before mid-night at the Old Polo Grounds, across the street from the Assembly building.
Winding back the clock, this paper seeks to conduct a lexical stylistic analysis of the extempore rhetorical 1957 Independence Declaration speech by Nkrumah using the linguistic and stylistic checklist by Leech and Short (2007) and the ideational meta-function by Halliday and Matthiessen (2014) as frameworks for the analysis.
Taiwo (2009:192) describes politics as ‘the struggle for and control of resources, values, norms and behavior of a social group’. It is very obvious that one needs language as a powerful tool to attain political power. It is true that the politicians’ targeted struggle and control of whatever resources, values and norms will be a fiasco without the use of language. Ayeomoni & Akinkuolere (2012:462) say that ‘language has been a powerful tool in the hands of political leaders; they manipulate the tool to suit their purposes’. Since politics is basically about struggling to control power, it is only through language that such could be accomplished, thereby making language a very strong political weapon.
Taiwo (2007) extends the notion about language in political speeches by saying that language is a heavily loaded vehicle. According to him, words are never neutral, transparent or innocent. They always carry the power and ideologies that reflect the interests of those who speak or write them. This implies that the choice of certain words over others may reflect conscious and unconscious ideologies held by those who produce them. In simple terms the language reveals who we are and what we think about and wish to pass on to others.
Language is essential to politicians. Most, if not all, activities performed by the politicians are done through the avenue created by language. Fairclough (1992), Van Dijk (1996), Obeng (2002), Adjei-Fobi (2011) and Anderson (2014) all attest to the fact that political speeches are ornamented and foregrounded with a particular style which helps in conveying the intended message.
Fordjour (2012), highlighting the role of political speeches in Ghana, asserts that even though the country has enjoyed a stable democracy since the re-introduction of constitutional democracy in 1992, the only thing that could derail this current democratic gain is hate speech, especially, by political actors. This gives credence to the crucial role language plays in the practice of politics in Ghana.
2. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Some scholars have worked on political speeches from different perspectives. In order to establish the empirical significance of the present study, the study first has to be properly situated in the extant literature through a review of studies that examine various political speeches from the linguistic perspective of stylistics. Stylistic analyses of political speeches have been conducted by (Adjei-Fobi 2011; Balogun 2011; Djabatey 2013; Anderson 2014; Mensah 2014; Quinto 2014; Adjei & Ewusi-Mensah 2016).
The foregoing reviews highlight few political speeches whose meanings and effects have been fleshed out through stylistic analyses. In the extant literature only Adjei-Fobi (2011) and Djabatey (2013) conduct a rhetorical analysis of selected speeches of Nkrumah from the rhetorical perspective. This paper therefore takes a different analytical perspective by looking at the stylistically significant lexical features and the cognitive relationship and their meaning among the lexical features in the overall comprehension of Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech.
3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In the bid to identify and describe the problem, the following questions arose to serve as a guide to prevent a deviation from the purpose of the study. The paper seeks to answer these three questions.
a. What are the lexical stylistic features in Kwame Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech?
b. What cognitive relationships exist among the lexical stylistic features in Kwame Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech?
c. How do the lexical stylistic features employed contribute to the effectiveness of Kwame Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech?
5. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Some stylistic analyses have been conducted on Ghanaian presidential political speeches. Adjei-Fobi (2011) investigates the role of metaphor in selected political speeches by Nkrumah and Rawlings. His study revealed that Nkrumah uses militant and confrontational metaphors whereas Rawlings opts for violent and militaristic ones.
Mensah (2014) conducts a rhetorical analysis of Kwame Nkrumah’s political speeches. The findings of his study show that Nkrumah employs a nonviolent protest rhetoric which forms a necessary ingredient to break through, if not entirely, the formidable walls of colonialism in the Gold Coast. Anim-Ayeko (2012) probes the use of metaphor in the politics of Ghana with emphasis on verbal and nonverbal selected political advertisement in the print media.
Djabatey (2013) undertakes a critical discourse analysis of selected political speeches by John Dramani Mahama and Nana Akufo Addo. The findings of his study reveal that the contexts of the speech play a general influencing role in the way the presentation goes while the sub-divisions of topics also have a bearing on the presentation. Anderson (2014) carries out a stylistic analysis of some selected political speeches by John Evans Atta Mills. He looks at the stylistic features in Mills’ speeches and how they reveal Mills as the man of peace using the systematic functional linguistics framework. The findings reveal that Mills employed stylistic features such as positive self-projection, repetition, code switching, biblical allusions, historical allusions, a fatherly imagery and the imagery of a preacher in his speeches. Adjei and Ewusi-Mensah (2016) conduct a transitivity analysis of the 2009 state of the nation address by Atta mills which confirms that material, relational and mental processes are the three primary processes that language often uses.
This paper, therefore takes a different analytical perspective by looking at the stylistic value of the use of the lexical items, the cognitive relation among these lexical items and how they reveal the meaning and effectiveness of Nkrumah’s 1957 Independence Declaration speech in order to contribute significantly to literature.
6. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
The study employs two frameworks for its analysis. These frameworks are the Linguistic and stylistic categories framework by Leech and Short (2007) and Halliday and Matthiessen Functional Grammar framework (2014).
6.1 LINGUISTIC AND STYLISTIC CATEGORIES FRAMEWORK BY LEECH AND SHORT (2007)
The study adopts the lexical category in the Linguistic and stylistic categories framework to identify the lexical items in the speech. The framework postulates that the lexical items in a text form a unit of analysis in stylistics. The framework explicates that the presence or absence of a particular feature serves a stylistic purpose. Nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives form the lexical categories in the framework. These categories present various aspects of the meaning of a text. The framework also posits that the relationship between lexical items in a text reveal the message in a text. The framework further aids to reveal the relation among these lexical items to show their stylistic value to the speech in general.
6.2 FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR FRAMEWORK BY HALLIDAY AND MATTHIESSEN (2014)
The study also uses the ideational meta-function in the functional grammar framework to classify various lexical items into various cognitive domains which reveal the thoughts of Nkrumah in his speech. The ideational meta-function posits that people present their experiences through their utterances. The study considers these experiences from the lexical level of analysis. This framework helps stratify the various lexical items their cognitive domain in order to reveal the thoughts and experiences of Nkrumah through his speech.
The researcher begins the study by conducting a thorough or close reading of the speech. The researcher then sets out to conduct a lexical stylistic analysis of Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech. The study through the linguistic and stylistic categories framework identifies four lexical categories in the speech. The study identifies the various lexical items in the speech and groups them under these four lexical categories which are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. The study employs the manual coding approach to code the lexical items into their respective category due to small corpus size of the speech. The study analyses the lexical items in their respective categories and after which conducts an inter-category analysis of these lexical items. This reveal the significant stylistic features present in the speech and their contribution to the general comprehension of the speech.
The study also adopts the ideational meta-function in the functional grammar framework to classify various lexical items into various cognitive domains within their respective categories. The study progresses to look at the relationship between the various domains which reveal the thoughts of the political actor
The analysis identifies lexical item into their respective categories below
The table above presents Nkrumah’s use of lexical items. The table shows Nkrumah’s dominant use of nouns and verbs which indicate the events that lead to independence and the role the Gold Coasters play in these events in the attainment of independence.
Nkrumah uses formal vocabulary in his speech which shows the kind of attention he commits to the speech due its pivotal role it plays. He uses simple vocabulary in order to reach his immediate as well as his extended audience since the speech was broadcasted on an international radio station. His use of simple and general vocabulary served the stylistic purpose of his message reaching people from different backgrounds and levels.
Throughout Nkrumah’s speech, he never mentions the name ‘Gold Coast’ instead he mentions the name ‘Ghana’ in replacement of ‘Gold Coast’. This serves an effective stylistic purpose of Nkrumah’s sense of the nation’s independence and therefore must not addressed by its colonial name which is Gold Coast.
ANALYSIS OF NOUNS
Nkrumah used fifty-six (56) nouns in his speech. Out of the fifty-six (56) nouns used, only five are proper and the remaining fifty (51) are common nouns.
He uses the five (5) proper nouns to refer to the groups of people he directs his speech to. The five proper nouns he used basically refer to Ghanaians, Africans and God. He uses the proper nouns Ghana-Ghanaians, Africa-African and God. His use of Ghana and Ghanaians indicates that his speech was directed to the citizens of the new country called Ghana and not the colonial nation called Gold Cost. His use of Africa and Africans points to Africans in general as the extended audience of his speech. He uses the proper noun God to acknowledge the presence of God, his believe in God and the help of God in the attainment of independence.
He uses fifty (50) commons nouns to refer to a wide range of abstract and concrete qualities and events. This indicates the events that lead to the attainment of independence.
Nkrumah uses thirty-seven (38) abstract nouns. He uses these abstract nouns to refer to qualities, entities, human acts and time.
Nkrumah uses the concrete nouns chiefs, people, youth, farmers, women, men, eyes, man, Ghana, Africa, African, Ghanaians, God, millions, thousand, nation, nations and world to refer to diverse people and places in his speech.
COGNITIVE DOMAIN ANALYSIS OF NOUNS
The table below presents the respective cognitive domains in the nominal category.
DOMAIN OF AUDIENCE
Nkrumah uses the nouns in this domain to represent the various locations of people to whom he directs his message to. He uses the nouns Ghanaians, Africans and world. Nkrumah’s use of these nouns cognitively reveals that the message basically was directed Ghanaians who are the immediate audience, then extends to Africans and finally to the world. This indicates the universal nature of the message and the hierarchy of its targeted audience.
This domain reveals Nkrumah’s use of specific and general recipients of his message. Nkrumah crafts this domain to achieve a multi-layered effect on both his immediate and remote audiences. This domain cognitively shows role God, chiefs, farmers, men, women, youth and the people in general play in the attainment of independence. Each of these groups plays a vital role in the attainment of independence.
DOMAIN OF NUMBER
Nkrumah uses two numerical nouns which he associates with his immediate and extended audience respectively. He uses the noun thousands to refer to his immediate audience and millions to refer to his extended audience. This indicates that Ghanaians and Africans must unite in numbers.
DOMAIN OF TIME
The domain of time also presents time intervals and specific points in time through the use of the nouns seconds, minutes, end and beginning. The domain presents the two generic time intervals which are beginning and end. Within the general frame of time, presents specific points in time which are seconds and minutes. This indicates the attainment of independence through working every second and minute as well as from beginning to end by the Gold Coasters.
This domain presents the efforts the colonial people exert in order to attain independence. These efforts are captured in the effort domain made up of the words rule, work, battle, support and purport.
DOMAIN OF VISION
He uses the words eyes and minds to capture the cognitive domain of vision. He uses the word minds to capture the domain of psychological vision and eyes for physical vision. He uses the words minds to indicate the fact that Ghanaian need to use their minds to perceive psychological issues and the word eyes to indicate the fact that Ghanaians need to use their eyes to see physical things and issues around them.
DOMAIN OF OBSTACLES
Nkrumah presents some obstacles that hinders the attainment of independence. These obstacles are captured by the use of the noun imprisonments, difficulties, hardships, suffering, trouble, and imperialism.
DOMAIN OF OUTCOMES
This domain presents the nouns independence, liberation, foundation, opportunity, chance and blessing that capture the outcome of the peoples’ independence. These words are cognitively intertwined in a horizontal relationship. Cognitively, the attainment of independence brings forth liberation which establishes the foundation on which the Ghanaians gain the chance and opportunities to rule themselves which is a blessing. This reveals the relevance and the benefits of the attainment of Ghana’s independence.
DOMAIN OF QUALITY
He uses the words identity, attitude and personality to present the domain of Ghanaian or African qualities. This indicates that Ghanaian must show forth their qualities through their attitude, identity and personality.
INTER-COGNITIVE DOMAIN ANALYSIS OF NOUNS
The inter-cognitive domain analysis of the nominal category reveals Nkrumah’s reference to the stages of development that lead to the attainment of independence.
ANALYSIS OF VERBS
The table below presents the various category of verbs Nkrumah uses in his speech.
He uses the past tense verbs to refer to the actions put up by the Gold Coasters in the attainment of independence and the use of the present tense verbs to indicate the present state of the country as an independent country now called Ghana. The use of the present tense verbs also indicate actions Nkrumah expects the people to carry out at the time of the delivery of the speech. He used the progressive verbs to capture the actions he expects the people to exhibit after the attainment of independence.
He also uses the modals Must, will and can to express the passion and the ability of the people and the progressive verbs to indicate that the nation should keep moving forward.
COGNITIVE ANALYSIS OF VERBS
The cognitive analysis of Nkrumah’s use of verbs revealed that, he used only verbs related to human actions and states. This revealed the fact that his speech was centred on humans, primarily, Ghanaians and the actions they employ to attain independence. The verbs he uses in the speech are in seven cognitive domains.
DOMAIN OF SPEECH
He uses the words call, ask, said and thank to represent the domain of speech. This domain captures various stages of verbal activities.
DOMAIN OF PHYSICAL ACTS
This domain constitutes the verbs fight, lay, pick, made, make, give, take, fought, won, play, stand, make, change, pointed, prepared, respected, brought, led and ended. These verbs fall into the cognitive domain of human action. This domain of human actions indicates the various forms of actions the Gold Coasters employ in the attainment of independence.
DOMAIN OF POSSESSION
This domain makes use of the four possessive verbs in English. These possessive verbs are the verbs had, has, have and having. These verbs indicate what the people possess in relation to time. Nkrumah considers the people’s possession from the past, present and future. This shows the effect of his on speech on the three aspects of time.
DOMAIN OF MOVEMENT
In this domain, Nkrumah uses the verbs that denote movement. He uses the verbs pause, goes and going. The verb pause indicates a state of reflection over the struggles that lead to the attainment of independence and the verb goes indicates that Ghanaians must be resilient after the attainment of independence by making consistent efforts to move on.
DOMAIN OF THE PEOPLES’ STATE OF BEING
He only used the present forms of the verb be in the state of being domain. He used the verbs is, am and are. He used these verbs to express the peoples’ state of being. The relevance of the use of these present forms of the verb be reveals Nkrumah’s great deal of interest in the current state of the nation and the people.
DOMAIN OF PASSION
This domain expresses the inner passion of the people through the use of the modal auxiliaries will, can, must, and the verbs remember and want. This cognitive groups of verbs incite the passion of obligatory ability in the people to still fight on remembering and using the colonial struggle as an antecedent.
DOMAIN OF PROGRESS
This domain presents what Nkrumah expects from the people after their attainment of independence. All the verbs in this domain are in the progressive aspect. The domain contains the verbs freeing, relying, managing and reshaping.
INTER-COGNITIVE DOMAIN ANALYSIS OF VERBS
The inter-domain analysis reveals the procedure in the attainment of independence. The inter-cognitive domain analysis for the verbs reveal Nkrumah as an action driven person through his dominant use of action verbs. He wants the people to speak less and act more.
ANALYSIS OF ADVERBS
The adverbs used by Nkrumah are be grouped into four categories
From the categorisation, it is evident that Nkrumah used more adverbs of time since he considers the time of the delivered of the speech as very crucial in the life of the new nation, Ghana.
ADVERB OF MANNER
Nkrumah used one adverb of manner in his speech. He uses the adverb nobly. He uses the adverb nobly to indicate that the people must do things in a noble way. The use of the adverb nobly also presents Nkrumah as a man of decorum.
ADVERB OF PLACE
Nkrumah makes use of one adverb of place. He uses the adverb here to refer to the place where the speech is delivered. This reveals the importance Nkrumah attaches to the place where the speech is delivered. This place now serves as an important landmark in Ghana called the independence square where all the Independence Day celebrations and other national programmes go on.
ADVERBS OF TIME
Nkrumah uses three adverbs of time in his speech to refer to the time of the delivery of the speech as well as the times ahead. He uses the adverbs now and today to refer to the specific time of the delivery of the speech. This reveals Nkrumah recognition of the time of the delivery of the speech which has now become a memorable time in history of Ghana. He also uses the adverb forever to refer to the perpetual state of the independence attained. To Nkrumah, the present is very important that it affects the future forever.
ADVERB OF QUANTITY
He uses the adverb anymore to indicate the end of imperialism and the obstacles hindering the progress of the country. This shows that the country went through enough oppression and is not ready to receive any further form of oppression.
ANALYSIS OF ADJECTIVES
The table below presents the adjectives in Nkrumah’ speech in their various categories
ADJECTIVES OF NUMBER ADJECTIVES OF QUALITY ADJECTIVE OF COLOUR
Last, two, only, one Beloved, difficult, valiant, foreign, mighty, almighty, meaningless, hard, long, new, national, free, own, independent, ex-service, clear, quite, total, fellow black
ADJECTIVES OF NUMBER
Nkrumah uses four adjectives of quality in his speech. These are the adjectives last, one, two and only. He uses the adjective last to indicate the end of the colonial masters’ oppression. The use of one, two and only reveal the contributions by individual citizens in nation and the use of two represents the collective contributions of all and sundry.
ADJECTIVES OF QUALITY
Nkrumah uses adjectives of diverse qualities. He uses nineteen adjectives of quality to describe the events and the people who contribute to the attainment of independence.
ADJECTIVES OF COLOUR
Nkrumah uses one adjective of colour which reveals his recognition of the African represented by the adjective black.
COGNITIVE DOMAIN ANALYSIS OF ADJECTIVES
DOMAIN OF GOD
The cognitive domain of God is made up of the adjectives mighty and almighty. Nkrumah uses these adjectives to refer to God as the only mighty one who saw the country through its problems to attain independence. This reveals Nkrumah’s dependence and belief in God.
DOMAIN OF GHANAIANS
Nkrumah uses the adjectives beloved, fellow, black and national to cognitively establish solidarity with Ghanaians. He uses the adjective beloved, fellow, black and national cognitively to indicate good qualities of Ghanaians in general. He also used the adjectives ex-service and gallant to refer to the soldiers in particular who helped in the fight for independence and have by then retired from service. Nkrumah stylistically uses these adjectives to portray the good qualities of the people in the country and by so doing, establishes a strong bond of solidarity between himself and the nation.
DOMAIN OF TIME
He uses the adjectives long and last to represent time in his speech. His use of long reveals the extent of the time of imperialism in the country. His use of last also reveals the end of imperialism in the country. Nkrumah’s use of time reveals the time span colonialism covers in the country and the end of colonialism in the country.
DOMAIN OF OBSTACLES
This domain presents the adjectives difficult and hard which reveal the obstacles the people had to face before gaining independence.
DOMAIN OF OUTCOMES
This domain presents the outcomes of the peoples’ ability to conquer the obstacles of imperialism. This results in the people’s attainment of independence, their own nation and freedom. This reveals the benefits derived by the people from the attainment of independence.
INTER COGNITVE DOMAIN ANALYSIS OF ADJECTIVES
The inter-cognitive domain analysis of his use of adjectives reveal God as the source of all might who helps the people battle with the obstacles of colonialism for a long time and at last conquer these obstacles and have now gain independence and freedom.
The lexical analysis of Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech generally reveals the struggles that the nation goes through before gaining independence. In doing this, Nkrumah establishes solidarity with the chiefs, farmers, women, ex-service men and the entire people by recounting and appreciating their respective contributions to the attainment of independence.
In addition, the analysis revealed Nkrumah’s use of diverse lexical items. He uses nouns, verbs and adjectives to recount the struggles that the colonial people had to go through in order to attain independence and adverbs to reveal the relevance and the time and venue where the speech was delivered. True to Nkrumah’s desire, the venue and time of the speech has become a historically recognised landmark in the country.
Again, the analysis also reveals that Nkrumah directs his speech to an immediate audience as well as an extended audience. The immediate audience are Ghanaians while the extended audience represent Africans and the entire world. Due to the wide range of audience, Nkrumah stylistically uses simple and general vocabulary in order reach his respective audience.
Also, the analysis reveals Nkrumah’s sense of Ghana as a new nation which is indicated by absence of the word Gold Coast in the speech but the presence of the use of Ghana since the speech marks the birth of the new nation he calls Ghana. The speech declares the new name of the nation as Ghana.
Further, the analysis reveals Nkrumah’s belief in God through his attribution of the attainment of independence to the help of God and his wish for Ghana and Africa to press on even after the attainment of independence in order to attain total independence. He uses civil religion as a counter hegemonic tool to colonialism thereby presenting the colonial master as not been religious.
Moreover, Nkrumah’s dominant use of action verbs presents him as an action driven man. He wants the people to speak less and act more in their quest to progress.
Last but not least, the analysis reveals that the speech marks the end of imperialism and the beginning of independence.
The paper analyses Nkrumah’s 1957 Independence Declaration Speech from the lexical stylistic point of view. The study identifies the lexical features in the speech using the checklist for linguistic and stylistic analysis by leech and short (2007) and the cognitive domains using the ideational function in Halliday and Matthiessen’s functional grammar theory. The analysis brings forth very interesting revelations on the hidden message in the speech. The study demonstrates that, the cognitive relationship among lexical items can reveal the meaning of a text. The study therefore, enhances the understanding and interpretation of Kwame Nkrumah’s speech in particular and political discourse in general.
The study recommends that other researches can be carried out on a comparative analysis of Nkrumah’s 1957 independence declaration speech and other Independence Day speeches in the 4th republic of Ghana.