As South Africans we are far too quick to credit people from overseas with brilliance in a particular field while condemning any local who dares to stand on the brink of greatness.
How often, for example, do you hear academics and the media going on and on about wonderful speakers like Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Cicero or Demosthenes without so much as a word or a nod in the direction of giants like Frans Ludeke or Chris Maroleng?
Of course André Visagie would also have been a nominee but unfortunately someone kept interrupting him.
Yet among us there are those who stand head and shoulders above the rest. Men and women whose command of the English language are without equal and whose delivery cannot be faulted.
These are the Afrikaans magistrates who give their judgments in English.
Yet even these men and women are dwarfed by a speaker who can only be described as the next great South African orator — Vernon Philander.
As a bowler Vernon must be the hottest prospect in world cricket right now and it’s hard to find a commentator who does not heap enormous praise on this exciting young man. Google Philander and you’ll get some idea of just how talented he is and how highly he is rated by the cricket fraternity.
While that is all very well, I can’t help but feel that he is being cheated by the media who have failed to pick up on the fact that in Vernon South Africa has a great orator.
During the series against New Zealand the chief Kiwi commentator, Simon Doull, has repeatedly interviewed the Proteas’ destroyer-in-chief and just from his answers you can see the incredible depth of his knowledge and the clinical method with which he delivers it.
Doull: Hi Vernon, another great performance.
(NB please note that we are sure Simon and New Zealand viewers understood what Vernon said and the fact that no question is ever in response to one of his answers is purely coincidental)
Doull: AB de Villiers played exceptionally well.
Doull: Are you enjoying your trip to New Zealand.
Afterwards you can picture the average Kiwi family:
Dad: Did you understand a word he said?
Ma: Not really.
Son: Don’t be stupid he must be speaking one of his home languages like our Maoris.
And the average white South African family:
Son: What, what?
Dad: What did Vernon say?
Son: Must have been Xhosa or Zulu … couldn’t make out a f******* word of it.
Laugh if you must but in ten years’ time Vernon will be able to head Cricket South Africa, help himself to any bonus he wants and never get charged because no-one in the media, the National Prosecuting Authority or heading any commission will be able to dispute a word of what he says.
Truly a great orator for our time.