The concept of strategic communications is still often understood in a limited way that does not take rhetorical agency into consideration. This paper seeks to expand upon the narrow perceptions that
are still prevalent. For strategic communications to be employed gainfully, the agency of both the speaker and the audience must be appreciated accordingly. Here, we first examine a number of terms that are useful to the practice of strategic communications. These include agency, recognition, rhetorical sovereignty, and rhetorical imperialism. We then apply these terms in relation to the story of Africa, first as has been predominantly told by non-Africans and then as expressed by Africans themselves. We see that strategic communications remains limited when rhetorical agency is neglected. That to conduct effective strategic communications, an agent must always comprehend the range and intelligence of their own rhetorical agency and must appreciate the rhetorical agencies of their counterparts. With Africa set to increase its global role, its views and perceptions must be engaged and discerned. Only in doing so can outdated and counterproductive approaches be transcended.
Keywords—strategic communication, strategic communications, rhetorical agency, Africa, recognition, relationality, mutuality
About the Author
Dr Klaus Kotzé works at the Inclusive Society Institute, South Africa, and is an Honorary Research Affiliate at the Centre for Rhetoric Studies, University of Cape Town. He works on strategic, global, and national affairs.