The African Association for Rhetoric is a body of scholars, rhetors and researchers who engage in interrogating the deployment of rhetoric and speech communication in political, social, cultural, judicial and deliberative contexts. The fundamental goal of the Association is to encourage rhetors and researchers in public speaking from all over African and different parts of the world to participate in rhetorical debates as they relate to democratic governance and other pertinent intersections that may be of interest to them. The Association also seeks to promote scholarship in African Rhetoric. The Association’s activities include biennial conferences, occasional seminars and symposia. The Association’s main publications are The African Journal of Rhetoric, and an online supplementary Journal, entitled: Balagha: African Rhetoric Quarterly. The Association also seeks to award members, fellowships, and honorary fellowships to deserving orators and rhetorical practitioners who have responsibly deployed rhetoric in the public domain.
On July 3 2007, in the subterranean auditorium of the Malherbe Library, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, Professor Donal McCracken, accompanied by Professor Johan Jacobs, the then Dean and Deputy Dean Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, inaugurated the conference series of what was conceived as the African Rhetoric Project. Since then, the project has migrated across provinces, across nations, and now, across continents. The current state of the Association is credited to the sacrifices made by fellow rhetoricians and families who have given their unflinching support and resources since inception.
In these ten years, The Association has organised conferences, conferences in Durban, its birthplace, Cape Town, Lagos, Windhoek and Washington DC. Themes have ranged from protests, to HIV/AIDS, Political leadership and more recently, transformational leadership. The one unique characteristic of the meetings of the African Association for Rhetoric (AAR) is the diversity and plurality of thought and perspectives that are offered from various disciplines. The recovery of African values and thoughts perhaps informed the idea of the promotion of African scholarship during the inauguration of the project. That we must continue to pursue.
AAR owes a debt of gratitude to some organisations and individuals who have believed in the vision of this Association from inception and who have in one way or the other committed their resources to building the Association. First is Faculty of Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal that supported the founding of the Association. Within the Faculty are the Centre for Civil Society, Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, and the Department of Politics. The two pillars upon who the founding of the Association rested were, Professor Dasarath Chetty and the unassuming Professor Ari Sitas. More substantial funding and support came from HEARD (Health Economics and AIDS Research Division). HEARD created a base for the Association for 5 years. Mr Obed Qulo and Professor Timothy Quinlan played very significant roles n making that possible. HEARD funded a conference and 2 editions of the journal. Professor Keyan Tomaselli was critical to the conceptualisation of the journal and the general operations. There are many others whose names and contributions cannot be mentioned, but we are also appreciative of their kindness and effort in building this Association. In 2017, NIHSS [National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences] has generously added their name to the list of our benefactors. The future is right upon us, let not kindness cease with the dawn of the day.