Nelson Mandela vs. Martin Luther King Jr: The Eradication of Segregation

by Maxwell Ajayi

An activist is a person who works hard in other to bring social and political change in a country. In the discussion of activism and leadership, one controversial issue is whether the qualities of speeches of an atavist can determine his leadership abilities. While some argue that the speeches of Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Martin Luther King junior of United State of America, contains motivational word which encourage activism, I will say, every word in their speeches represent their good leadership ability. Hence, I am going to examine the leadership abilities of Mandela and King using their speeches. Also, I am going to compare the similarities and differences in their style of writings. Interestingly, a close observation of “I have a Dream” by Martin Luther King junior and “Our Freedom” by Nelson Mandela – a speech he gave on the day he was released after twenty six years in prison, reviles that both Martin Luther King Junior and Nelson Mandela’s are motivational activist whose speeches reviled their leadership qualities.

Image result for Nelson mandela and Marthin Luther King jr.

Both “I have a Dream” by Martin Luther, and “Our Freedom” by Nelson Mandela, are rhetorical speeches which are capable of persuading its audiences. Considering the ovation of people who listen to these speeches, it can be said, that these speeches win’s the people support for equality between blacks and whites people. In as much as both speeches aim at black’s equality, the speeches also encourage peaceful protest as a way of achieving equality. According to King “we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” And according to Mandela “it is only through discipline mass action that our victory can be assured.” By these statements, both speakers are able to prove that they are peace loving leaders. Although the dynamic peace loving leadership character of King and Mandela speeches in eradication of segregation showed us so much, peaceful democracy is the foundation those principles in their speeches are built on.

Mandela and King advocate for democracy in their speeches. Just as it was in the United States of America in the 1960s, blacks in South Africa were denied of their rights to partaking in electoral process in their country. Because they were not represented in the government electoral offices, the interests of the blacks were


Not considered. This prompted the activism of Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Martin Luther King Junior in United State of America. In his speech, Mandela stated the importance of non racial democratically elected government “It is our belief that the future of our country can only be determined by a body which is democratically elected on a non-racial basis.” Also, advocating for democracy, Martin Luther King in his speech asked everyone to resist segregation. ”Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”With these statements, both speakers focused on advocating democracy and their speeches overtook the deeper problem of inequality. Just as there are similarities in speeches of Mandela and King, the use of figurative expressions in Luther speeches is a major difference.

Martin Luther King Junior uses figurative expression in his style of writing. For many people, the uses of figurative expression in “I have a Dream” mark the intelligence of Luther as a leader. “We have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.” Literarily, Luther was referring to emancipation proclamation which was signed by President Lincoln’s administration about a hundred years before Luther speech. Luther use’s the scenario of cashing a check to explain the aims.


This is because freedom for the blacks has been signed in to law by the past administration and the present administrations refused to grant them their freedom and right. Kings Statement “we have come to the nation capital to cash a check” can be interpreted as follows: Bank is the Government, demanding for Cash is demanding for Freedom, and the Check is Kings Speeches. Kings hopes and trusted in justice to achieve freedom for his people. On like Kings, Mandela speech “our freedom” did not contain figurative expressions.

Finally, both Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior are symbols of freedom and good leadership in South Africa and United States of America respectively. There are notable similarities and differences in their speeches. Their speeches and activities show that they both possess good leadership qualities. Up to date, both speeches are regarded as heroic speeches.

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