Sign-Language Interpreter at Mandela’s Memorial Used ‘Made-Up Signs’

Interpreter reportedly did his own thing during President Obama’s eulogy instead of accurately translating

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Deaf South Africans have lashed out at what they claim was a fake interpreter who was allegedly making up signs during President Barack Obama’s eulogy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg on Monday.

According to an article published in the Age, Braam Jordaan, a South African member of the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section, called the interpretation “humiliating” and stated that the individual on stage during the U.S. President’s speech had “made up his own signs.”

“What happened at the memorial service [was a] truly disgraceful thing to see — it should not happen at all,” said Jordaan.

Suggestions that there may have been a problem with the auto-cue, or that the variety of sign language employed was a little-known but legitimate one, did not cut much ice with deaf viewers on social media.

The interpreter responsible has reportedly worked at previous African National Congress events, during which questions had also been raised about his proficiency, according to the Age.