Twitter Is on the Case of the ‘Fake’ Sign Language Interpreter at Mandela’s Memorial

While we all watched the moving tribute, South Africa’s deaf community wasn’t thrilled.

President Barack Obama delivers a speech next to a sign language interpreter during the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
President Barack Obama delivers a speech next to a sign language interpreter during the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

Take a look at this sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s televised memorial service:


Now take a closer look: He’s using very few facial expressions—an important component of sign language—and he’s repeating the same hand gestures over and over again. In other words:

During the broadcast, Bruno Druchen, the national director of DeafSA, tweeted:

And Wilma Newhoudt, a deaf member of the South African Parliament and vice president of the World Federation of the Deaf, tweeted:

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