Nelson Mandela Memorial's Sign Language Interpreter Was Making it Up as He Went Along

By Gerald Lynch on at

Nelson Mandela's memorial service, held yesterday, has been met with a mixed reception, with criticism being levelled against everything from the political posturing of the speakers to that selfie. Some of the tributes however, particularly President Obama's, were genuinely moving. But if you were deaf you wouldn't know that -- the sign language interpreter was just winging it.

The as-yet-unnamed interpreter, who stood beside local politicians and world leaders alike throughout the event at Johannesburg's FNB football stadium, may have been moving his hands around but, according to experts, was doing so without any meaning. None of South Africa's 11 official languages could be discerned by leading deaf groups around the globe, nor any standard American signing gestures.

To make matters worse, the man is thought to have been a regular at many South African governmental public events, but it's so far taken a global audience to out him as a fraud. How he ever thought he'd pull it off with the entire world watching is beyond me. An investigation from the South African government is now expected. Check out the phoney's rather stiff movements in the video above. [Independent]