Mandela’s Memorial Detracted by “Fake” Interpreter

    December 11, 2013
    Mike Tuttle

“The structure of his hand and body movements didn’t seem to change no matter what the speaker was saying.”

The deaf community is outraged over the man standing near President Obama on stage at Nelson Mandela’s memorial who appeared to be pretending to do sign language as Obama and other world leaders spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday.

One of the first to notice was Wilma Newhoudt, a vice president of the World Federation of the Deaf and the first deaf person to be elected to South Africa’s parliament.

“Shame on this male so called interpreter on the stage,” she wrote on Twitter during the service. “What is he signing? He knows that the deaf cannot vocally boo him off. Shame on him!”

Another who noticed and protested via tweet was Bruno Peter Druchen, national director at the Deaf Federation of South Africa.

A U.K. website that focuses on news involving the deaf community, posted a video showing both the “fake” interpreter and an authentic sign language interpreter who viewers saw in a small box in the corner of their TV screen. Viewing both together, you can see how different the woman’s gestures were as compared to the man on the screen.

According to NPR, the South African government emailed reporters earlier today with a statement about Monday’s memorial service. It read:

“As we look at yesterday’s events, government has noted the concern expressed in various quarters about the alleged incorrect use of sign language at the National Memorial Service.

“Government is looking into this matter but has not been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organising events related to the State Funeral.

“Government will report publicly on any information it may establish but wishes to assure South Africans that we are clear in defending the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.”

The Guardian reports that “members of South Africa’s deaf community have previously raised concerns about the interpreter, who has been used at other African National Congress events.”

image via: YouTube


Mike Tuttle
Writer. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.