Signing interpreter at Mandela service a fake; waving hands around with no meaning

Whatever the man on stage during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was doing with his hands was not sign language, according to the Deaf Federation of South Africa.

Multiple news agencies around the world have reported that the unidentified interpreter, who “signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech,” was called a “fake” and a “fraud,” according to the Telegraph.

The Associated Press reportedly confirmed with three “sign language experts who watched the broadcast” that the man “was not signing in South African or American sign languages,” USA Today reported.

Bruno Peter Druchen, National Director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa and chairman of the South African Disability Alliance, was appalled by what he was seeing and tweeted:

David Buxton from the British Deaf Association said the interpreter was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

According to the Telegraph:

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learnt a word of sign language in his life.” He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements. “It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

A deaf Member of Parliament in South Africa and Druchen’s wife, Wilma Newhoudt, tweeted her outrage – as did others – as she watched the coverage of the service:


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The South African government told the Associated Press it was preparing a statement, but as yet, there has been no official word on how this man was allowed to “sign” during what has been called the “biggest funeral in world history.”

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About Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Twitter: @JaneenBPR

  • Yukon36

    The blacks even bring in a phony person at a memorial service.

    • EliseR

      And cue the racism…

      The story is the fact that the interpreter did not know what he was doing — not the color of his skin or the color of the skin of the people who hired him.

      • Eric

        Shut up Elsie. You agitator!

      • SusieQ

        I know it is about the story but everywhere Obama goes and everything he touches seems to go south. You think someone is trying to tell him something……….?

  • johnlaw484

    He’s no bigger fraud than the fellow standing behind him.

  • Lisa from Boca

    That is the funniest thing I have ever seen. He is probably somebodies cousin who organized the event and figured heck I can fake some sign language and get a nice paycheck.

    • EliseR

      I wonder how he thought no one would notice.

      • Rob

        He thought it was a funeral full of democrat commie wanna beees. They will not know the difference.

      • Mlm46

        Not like other “phonies” are noticed, eh Elise?

        • EliseR

          WTF is your problem? You are picking a fight over nothing. Stop acting like a child.

          • Mlm46

            Why, whatever do you mean? A fight? Not me!

          • Eric

            You tried to pick a fight in a comment before this one so shut up, HYPOCRITE!

      • SusieQ

        Because ALLLLLLLL…… eyes were on the great one!

  • Rob

    What’s wrong with ebonic sign language? You people are so racist.

  • Zionistout

    Obama the puppet, a fake interpreter for the racist hate monger communist scum bag Mandela. Looks right to me. All total BS.

  • SusieQ

    I hear voices when I hear Obama speak also……..We’re in trouble….We’re in trouble…….We’re In deep, deep trouble! Why am I hearing these voices?