A Pragma-Semantic Study of Former President Mugabe’s Speech at the 26th Summit of the OAU at Addis-Ababa (Ethiopia, 30/01/2016)

  • Barnabé Katsuva Ngitsi Research Fellow at Muhangi Teachers’ Training College, PO BOX 308 BUTEMBO, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis, Face Threatening Act, Pragmatics, Semantics, Speech Acts.


The issue addressed in this article is twofold; first of all, it seeks to show how pragmatics and semantics are two inseparable fields, for both of them are related to meaning. Nevertheless, needless to say, meaning in pragmatics seems to be more meaningful since it relates to real situations. In addition, the work depicts the language used in political spheres where the former Organization of the African Union (OAU) Chairperson Robert Mugabe displays anger since he is asked to give up the leadership of Zimbabwe, his cake. The speech is a real cacophony: use of non-sentences, banter principle, ellipses and so on; which reveal Mugabe’s uneasiness and of course he is not ready to yield in. To reach the goal assigned to this study, the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was used. In addition to the CDA, Speech Act Theory (SAT) was of great deal to depict Mugabe’s sense of irony and lack of politeness. However, Mugabe, the outgoing Chairperson of the OAU, succeeded to call for reforms at the United Nations (UN). Despite his hypocritical attitude, the Africans, i.e. “us” as opposed to “them”, i.e. the Westerners; are shown by the addresser (Mugabe) to be under domination of Europe. Besides, through laments, he clearly demonstrated that the latter are dictators and have no lesson about democracy to give to the former.  


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