MAIDEN speeches are tricky. They only come once. The one delivered in South Africa by newly-elected president of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa required extraordinary ingenuity.
Ramaphosa had to knit together multiple dynamics into a coherent whole. He managed to do this, delivering a speech which largely resonated with the delegates.
His maiden address to the party, at the end of its 54th National Conference, was shaped by the context of a narrow victory following a fierce and highly polarised contest in a factionalised organisation. A necessary aspect of his leadership was therefore to unite the ANC for a new beginning in a way that didn’t rock the boat.