Fri Oct 21 20:42:57 SAST 2016

Sorry Zuma, your words didn't give me goose bumps

By unknown | Sep 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

In my humble opinion, nothing comes close to the beauty of speech.

In my humble opinion, nothing comes close to the beauty of speech.

Fated to be a pen pusher from the days of "the silver cup is broken", I find speech a tad more therapeutic than writing. And eloquence is a bonus.

That is why my favourite "speaker" at the moment is an elderly gentleman whose character in Muvhango describes the angst he feels in Tshi-venda.

After my children, God and Moroka Swallows, nothing gives me goose bumps of delight quite like a good speech delivered.

I will not bore you with the sublimity of the Sermon on the Mount as it is not my wish to offend the atheists whose eyes may stray on to this page.

On August 28 1963 US human rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr said "I have a dream".

Forty-five years later, America still recalls what the dream was about.

It was about letting freedom ring because "when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are free at last!'"

This speech was and remains magical. Hypnotic.

On April 3 1968, King enraptured his audiences further when he told them "I see the promised land".

Very few people have since been able to touch my heart like this until a moegoefrom Mbewuleni in the Eastern Cape told South Africa and the world "I am an African".

This was the day my literary soul got satisfied.

Here and there this weird soul gets fed, like the time when Ishmael Semenya SC comforted his senior, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, on the occasion of the death of Ngoepe's granddaughter.

My obsession with the written word and the power of oration has led me to fall head over heels in love with the speeches of those in "the other camp" - Thabo Mbeki and Kader Asmal. These two, I am told, sit up until the wee hours going through their speeches.

I love speeches for their plethora of quotable quotes.

My knees go weak at the memory of General MacArthur's "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away", Julius Caesar and Hamlet through the pen of William Shakespeare in "Friends Romans, Countrymen" and "To be or not to be".

I was at the Portuguese Hall in Turffontein on Monday when ANC President Jacob Zuma spoke to the troika of Greek, Italian and Portuguese business people.

Whoever it was who wrote his speech did not, as the saying goes, move my world. I urge them to give me "blood, sweat and tears".

After all, this is the same man I'd have to listen to, from 2009, for possibly two five-year terms. Make it worth my while, five years twice can stretch into 10 years of pain if its jarring to the ear.

And this is not a cartoon.


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