This is what I did on Redhat 9 and the basic speech function works
Download from http://www.cstr.inf.ed.ac.uk/downloads/festival/1.95/
I unpacked them into a directory called home/tts, this gave me two directories festival and speech_tools
Then as root I cd'd into the speech_tools directory, in my case /home/tts/speech_tools and ran ./configure then make I also ran make test which gave no errors
Next again as root I went to the festival directory cd /home/tts/festival and ran make
Then as a normal user from the festival directory I ran bin/festival and got
Festival Speech Synthesis System 1.95:beta July 2004
Copyright (C) University of Edinburgh, 1996-2004. All rights reserved.
For details type `(festival_warranty)'
From here all the following work perfectly
(SayText "hello world")
Then enter (quit) and script mode works using the following
Hope this helps, I'm no expert just lucky I guess