I Will Be a Formidable Candidate

This is a speech by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia when she declared her intention for 2011 race in Monrovia. It was published in January 26, 2010 – 5: 18 am.

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In this speech there is a rhetorical significance. Sir leaf’s goal was to announce her intention of wanting to be in the race of presidency in 2011. She therefore persuades the people in Monrovia by assuring them of a planned future “I know from whence we came yesterday. I know where we are today; I know where we ought to be tomorrow and I know how we will get there,” she confidently said. (The perspective, 2010).   This gives them hope where the use of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are metaphors signifying the past the current and the future respectively.

In her speech, she highlights some of the issues that she feels will give her credit and addresses them. “In the interest of time, I will present a more concise statement, in which I highlight the major policies and achievements of this Administration. I will also address some of the challenges and pressing issues confronting the nation, as we chart the way forward” she said. (The perspective, 2010).   By doing so she persuades the listeners who are the Liberian citizens towards her goals of running for presidency again come 2011 the use of the policies as imagery.

The real primary message delivered through out the speech, is her desire to continue serving the people of Liberia as a president in the coming future so that she can achieve all that which she promises them. She tells them how true she has been with the oaths taken during her inauguration on January 16, 2006 by committing herself to the protection and preservation of their national integrity to her people and all of their international many partners. “Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tempore, when the Oath of Office was administered to me during my inauguration on January 16, 2006, I committed myself to the protection and preservation of our national integrity, a goal which I hold dear, especially to our people and our international partners” she told them. (The perspective, 2010).  She breaks the norm and assures them of their bright future if only they trusted her and entrusted her with the presidency.

She achieves her objective of letting people be aware of her desire to be in the race in 2011 by publicly announcing her intention of contesting in the general and presidential elections in 2011 and thus seeking for a second term from the people. “I will be a candidate, a formidable candidate, in the 2011 elections. Let us travel the rest of the road together knowing that the God who brought us here will not leave us,” she told the National Legislature. (The perspective, 2010).   She made this declaration in Monrovia during her delivery of the state of nation address in William Tolbert joint chamber of the national legislature.

 She said that the economic was improved as well as the social burdens by her focus in her government. “But I realize that this is only the beginning, that we have a long way to go. Now is the time to act boldly and wisely not only to rebuild our economy together but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity for all Liberians,” she declared. (The perspective, 2010). She continues giving her people an everlasting hope for prosperity. By terming it as a beginning she meant to tell them that in her, there is more in store for them and they should be ready for them but by allowing her be the president for a second term so as to completely meet her target.

Delivering her speech in the chamber of the national legislature is so technical in that she really targeted her audience properly. In the ceremony, there were local dignitaries and foreign dignitaries among them the Chinese Ambassadors and the American ambassador, the United Nations Mission in Liberia officials, opposition political parties’ leaders, women preventatives, traditional leaders, student groups and youths not to mention many others. However mixed reactions were given as to whether the president was right in announcing her candidacy yet. Many were disappointed at her move at that time. To them, it was as if she swept the recommendations which recently were in the final report on the truth and reconciliation away. It did not seem right for many for the president to give a political speech in the occasion of the state of the national address and thought that the president needed to apologize for doing so to the National Legislature.

For her objective of announcing her candidacy, the content of her speech was very organized and selected and her arguments were clearly gotten. She establishes a desire for the listeners to continue listening to her in her introduction by activating them to what to find out what was the next thing she wanted to say. “Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of the Legislature: While carrying out fully my constitutional responsibility, for this year’s Annual Message, I have decided to do things a little differently. You have before you a longer, detailed version of the Message to this Honorable Body, which you can peruse at your leisure, and which your staff can download from the Executive Mansion Website,” she introduced. (The perspective, 2010).

The opening of her speech was in style and very official when she started with acknowledging the presence of all that were there in the chambers starting with Mr. Speaker, through Mr. Vice President and President of the Senate all the way down to  the members of the Press then the distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the fellow Liberians. She asked for a moment of silence in honor of Liberian leaders and fellow citizens who have already died and asks for Gods guidance in the speech she was about to deliver. She passes a message that she is a Christian who believes in life after death and so much organized and gives credit where it deserves.

Considering her intention of the speech, her presentation was so much focused. She all the way argued in relation to her objective. Even after she announced she got applause from the present members of the Legislature. “I will not only stand as candidate, but a formidable candidate.” she interjected. (The perspective, 2010).  Formidable is a synonym for astounding leader.

During her speech, she said that many were speculating on whether she was to contest in the 2011 elections. She said that she had gone to the extent of even neglecting her family and friends as she involved herself in building a foundation in which the country’s economy was recovering and she believed that the prosperity of the country in future would be based on that foundation. The responsibility she believes she accepted was even before the country had reached its goal and she asked the Liberians to understand her because they have been there with her. “I know from whence we came yesterday. I know where we are today; I know where we ought to be tomorrow and I know how we will get there,” she told them. (The perspective, 2010).  She used metaphor. By saying I know where we ought to be tomorrow,” she meant in future. There is contrast in what had been there what is there and what will come and she hopes it will be for her peoples benefit. “Therefore, however I act, whatever I do, it will be for you. And so it is for these reasons and to bring to an end all speculations that I now announce to you and to the thousands of supporters in radio land and abroad that I will be a candidate, a formidable candidate, in the 2011 elections,” She said. (The perspective, 2010).  Imagery is used where she says that “…I now announce to you and to the thousands of supporters in radio land and abroad that I will be a candidate…” to represent change in technology.

In her conclusion, she was concise and to the point. She clearly tells the people what she ought to do so as to accelerate the development in the coming two years. She assures them of her undying commitment towards the good of her people and this conclusively persuades people towards her goal of wanting to be president for another term. “I have spent the past four years, sometimes to the neglect of family and friends building the foundations upon which our economic recovery and our future prosperity will be based. I have carried the big load and I have accepted the responsibility when we have not reached our goals. You have acknowledged that and understood my position. You have been there with me. You have been there with me.” She confirmed. (The perspective, 2010).  This shows how devoted she is in wanting her people to prosper.

As a reader of this speech, I feel convinced of her intentions and am in a position to listen to her again and again. She uses contrast as a rhetorical technique. For example, “I have carried the big load and I have accepted the responsibility when we have not reached our goals. You have acknowledged that and understood my position. You have been there with me.” (The perspective, 2010). This shows the difference in times. They earlier on had not reached their goal but now they are almost there.

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