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[Image via Bauer Griffin Online.]
Umm… What’s the sign for “national embarrassment?”
Don’t ask that guy, Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being accused of gesticulating nonsense during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service earlier this week!
Being broadcasted out around the world, millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie make what appeared to be accurate interpretations. At least to those of us who aren’t hearing impaired.
However, deaf people watching were shocked and offended to see that Jantjie wasn’t signing anything at all, and was rather just making up movements with his hands!
Face, meet palm. That’s a gesture understood by everyone!
Once officials got word of this embarrassing blunder, an inquiry was made into just how Jantjie got the job for this event in the first place. A South African minister has admitted that a mistake was made in hiring Jantjie.
But today, Jantjie has come forward to tell everyone he is 100% qualified to sign, but was hallucinating during the service due to his struggle with schizophrenia!
What the WHAT?!?
"There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It's the situation I found myself in.”
He continued, describing how he heard “loud noises” and “voices in his head” while up on stage signing during speeches by President Barack Obama and various other foreign dignitaries.
Despite his excuse, South Africa's leading deaf association denounced him as a fake on Wednesday and called his actions an insult to deaf people and Mandela himself.
It’s a shame that this had to happen at what was such a beautiful tribute to a man with such a beautiful spirit. We would hope Mr. Jantjie knows that he should step down as an interpreter from now on until he is healthy enough to continue.
But if there’s one lesson Madiba taught the world, it was forgiveness. This too, no matter how embarrassing, should be forgiven.
Ch-ch-check out the video below to see more of Jantjie’s at Mandela’s memorial service.