Thamsanqa Jantjie, the man who made fake sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial service next to world leaders (including President Obama), told The Associated Press he saw angels coming into the stadium and was trying not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me."
Condemnation from sign language experts has been universal. "It was like getting somebody off the street and telling them to flap their hands around," said Cara Loening, director of Cape Town-based Sign Language Education and Development. Apparently, that's close to what happened. Jantjie's references were faked.
Imagine this guy, standing up there all day long, making random gestures with his hands, and keeping a mock serious expression on his face. What did he think was going to happen? Did he think nobody would figure it out? Did he think he'd be paid no matter what and thus not care?
I don't know if I should laugh at the absurdity or admire the diabolical genius. I suppose I should wait and see if the guy ends up doing any time in jail.
Well, if he saw angels, all is forgiven. He is chosen, a prophet of babble perhaps. Who are we to doubt the Lord's harbingers? Amen. He should have at least learned a few real signs, I mean it looks ridiculous, repeating the same motions over and over. And all this talk about it raining because the heavens opened up to let Mandela in. Do they the ever step back and listen to how this BS sounds? I guess heaven is really water-world and heavenly souls all live underwater? WTF.
The thing is, he's been doing this for years. I wonder what the Secret Service has to say and if Obama asked them to keep a low profile. Normally, they're well-known for being all over everything. Of course, in this case they didn't have the kind of advance notice they get for many presidential sojourns.
"The deaf community is never going to hear the end of this."
Funny in a 'not at all funny' sort of way...I will admit..
District 9 is an excellent South African science fiction film with a stark anti-racism theme inspired by the forced removals of the Apartheid era. If it's on his holiday wish list-- along with the rocking horses-- at least we know he's got good taste in socially-aware entertainment.
Firstly he is a criminal, he has commited fraud plain and simple. Secondly someone in the SA secret service should be sacked for not doing their jobs and vetting this guy properly. Third the SA people have to ask themselves how stupid they are because in inciting "angels" he is clearly playing to the pretty deep beliefs of them and expecting them to swallow more of his bull shite. What bothers me most is why no news agency, government person or other are not calling him out for the racist he is. Mocking us deaf in this way is another form of racism, he may not realise it, and I am sure many hearing do not see it but it what it is.
Personally i would like him to have his hearing removed and then have him thrown back into the lions den called life. I am betting he would be begging his god for restoration within a week, after a month he would be considering suicide as a career move.
Judith vd R.
I am a South African and I can say how equally appalled and EMBARRASSED I am at my country and the way they acted out at the funeral. This guy just made it 100 times worse, firstly at the fact that he committed such a crime and secondly at the fact that no one in our government actually picked the fact up that he cannot sign before employing him (or didn't care). Now the entire world sees this and thinks of our country as a complete joke!
Third the SA people have to ask themselves how stupid they are because in inciting "angels" he is clearly playing to the pretty deep beliefs of them and expecting them to swallow more of his bull shite.
You need to remember that we are a third world country. Most of our population are uneducated and still hold on to their traditional beliefs. These range from believing in exorcisms, to being told by our witch doctors (sangomas) that eating a young boys private parts can cure a range of diseases. We have pamphlets being handed out advertising this, and the fact that "Dr." Ben can cure job loss, abusive spouses, and debt with a magic ring and a prayer. Our president believes that taking a shower can cure him/prevent aids. This is our country and it is sad to see someone like this displaying this nonsense to the world at an event at the magnitude of this one.
I think the rest of our educated country would join me in the general feeling of disappointment and embarrassment about the whole thing, but perhaps I shouldn't be speaking for the masses, and perhaps others have different views. I don't really watch the news so I don't know how the populace reacted.
What bothers me most is why no news agency, government person or other are not calling him out for the racist he is. Mocking us deaf in this way is another form of racism, he may not realise it, and I am sure many hearing do not see it but it what it is.
I hadn't considered the discriminatory aspects (at least not quite in the same way) and it seems important that you've pointed this out so plainly.
What troubled me is that Jantjie had been doing this for two years and perhaps longer. After he appeared at an event in January 2012, the Deaf Federation of South Africa issued a formal letter of complaint to the ANC. They described Jantjie's signing as a "mockery" and said "100 percent of the information was omitted".
Not only did the ANC continue to use Jantjie, and not only did the deaf community continue to express frustration to the ANC, once Jantjie had been exposed, the ANC claimed they never knew anything about it.
So, as a stunned media corp descended on the ANC, and operation "cover your ass" began, I started wondering how much the factor of being deaf came into play here.
If these had been Spanish speakers saying what-the-fuck the guy is a fake, and telling them Jantjie can't speak a word of Spanish, would they still have gotten the brush-off? Would Jantjie have remained so above suspicion as to get a job translating Spanish at a major event, no questions asked?
While you're mulling over the nuances of discrimination against the hearing impaired, take a look at this sample "translation" of a speech by Jantjie. I found it rather enlightening.
"Deputy president of the ANC and officials of the African National Congress , National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, ANC women league , Youth League (crowd scream and applaud) African National Congress leadership of MK military . Leadership from SACP, SATU and SANCO.
Friends from all over Africa and the world, comrades and compatriots, the ANC is the oldest liberation movement on the African continent is 100 years old today. We have come from all corners of South Africa , Africa and the World."
The sign language Jantjie was using on stage to convey Zuma's words (some of his corresponding hand movements are in brackets) as translated by someone who actually knows sign language:
"All heart (ten hand move forward) which had no meaning, together (hand move back to the heart) then the sign for C is used. The hands go down to side and then point left with his right hand (no meaning) sign for beg is used repeatedly and the sign is placed on different levels in front of torso with a rocking movement. Both hands in claw shape in the air with movement with no meaning , then again the sign for beg, tree and the help sign and then the hands go forward indicating future." [The interpreter did not use facial expressions, a crucial part of any form of sign language.]