Ripple of Hope

Except for his short statement on arrival at Jan Smuts Airport, these five speeches are all the formal speeches that Senator Kennedy delivered in South Africa. Audio recordings of these speeches only exist for three of the speeches- at the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and the Witwatersrand.

The differences between the text versions of the speeches and the live recordings of the speeches- as delivered- have been retained. With the exception of the Johannesburg Bar Council Speech, the text versions are either from press releases or South African newspapers.

  1. University of Cape Town, NUSAS Day of Affirmation, June 6th, 1966 
    This is the only one of Senator Kennedy's South African speeches that is well known outside of South Africa. It is generally considered to be the greatest speech of Robert Kennedy's career. One paragraph in particular- the "Ripple of Hope" paragraph- is one of the most quoted paragraphs in American politics.
    The speech went through numerous rewrites and had input from many people, but its two primary authors were Richard Goodwin and Adam Walinsky. It was delivered in Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town on June 6th, 1966. Senator Kennedy was the guest speaker at the annual NUSAS Day of Affirmation.

  2. Stellenbosch University, Simonsberg Residence, June 7th, 1966 
    This speech was delivered at Stellenbosch University- one of the premier Afrikaans universities- where he had an interesting interchange with students. He was invited to speak by the student’s of the Simonsbeg Men's Residence. This invitation was strongly criticized by the pro-government university administration but the meeting was allowed to proceed.

  3. University of Natal, Durban, June 7th, 1966
    This speech is the only one of the South African speeches that Senator Kennedy delivered extemporaneously.

  4. Johannesburg Bar Council, Johannesburg, June 8th, 1966
    The text of this speech is from the South African Law Journal, Volume 83, February, 1967. It is interesting to consider this speech within the context of the 1990's debates preceding the adoption of the new South African Constitution and the influence of American Jurisprudence upon this process.

  5. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg June 8th, 1966 
    In some ways, this speech- although it is almost unknown except to those who heard it given in the Great Hall at the University of the Witwatersrand- is the most political speech Senator Kennedy gave in South Africa. It occurred on the last night of the visit where he was able to speak in a way that he could not earlier in the visit.