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Belmont Club

Signed, Sealed But Not Delivered

December 11th, 2013 - 1:22 pm

The hunt is on for a man who impersonated a sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.  He rendered President Obama’s moving tribute in gestures of his own devising.

The government, which was officially in charge of Tuesday’s ceremony, said it had tried and failed to get to the bottom of the matter.

“Government is looking in to this matter but has not been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organizing events,” Presidency Minister Collins Chabane told a news conference.

Zuma spokesman Mac Maharaj said he was checking the reports, while the SABC state broadcaster, which covered the memorial, said it was not involved as it had its own on-screen signers.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) also professed no knowledge, even though several television clips from a big party meeting a year ago showed the same man gesticulating on stage alongside Zuma.

“I don’t know this guy. He doesn’t work for the ANC. It was a government event. Ask them,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

The White House issued no comment. “The White House is declining to comment on reports in South Africa that the man who provided alleged sign interpretation of President Obama’s tribute to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is a fake.”

A spokesman for the deaf in South Africa denounced the imposter.

“He’s a complete fraud,” Cara Loening, director of Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town told AFP.

“He wasn’t even doing anything, There was not one sign there. Nothing. He was literally flapping his arms around.”

The interpreter, who translated eulogies including those of US President Barack Obama and Mandela’s grandchildren, looked as if he was “trying to swat a few flies away from his face and his head”.

“The deaf community in South Africa are completely outraged and nobody knows who he is,” said Loening.

“We can’t find a name or anything. The organisations who have accredited interpreters do not know him at all.”

"It's Toasted"

“Who’re you calling a fake?”

The Telegraph says the presence of the fake raises questions about how good the security arrangements were at the Mandela event.

The embarrassing revelation also raises questions about the security at the landmark event, which was attended by 91 heads of state and government including Barack Obama and David Cameron.

The interpreter, who wore the clearance pass of a government official, stood just feet from Mr Obama as he made his widely-praised speech, and also interpreted for South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, who apparently faces such a high threat level that he recently spent £12.4m on security upgrades to his private home.

The latest embarrassment was compounded by the news that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s house in Cape Town was burgled as he spoke at the event.

Jacob Zuma, the man ultimately responsible for this fiasco, was booed during the event and for good reason: he’s made a mess of South Africa. The African National Congress, which Zuma represents, raised the flag of Hope we are told. The problem is that they left it at that.

Daniel Greenfield argues that “what the left has is a terrible product with great marketing”.  All their movies end with a rousing rendition of the Internationale. But after the credits roll the lights go out — permanently.  The dream is nice.

The Soviet Union could not make its agricultural policies work, but it spent enormous efforts convincing its own people and the West that those policies were working even when bread was being filled with straw and the USSR was going deep into debt buying American wheat.

But the reality ain’t so good. So every leftist leader attempts to preserve the moment of revolutionary fervor like a fly in amber. The Mandela funeral gave Zuma a chance to renew the brand because the brand is all they’ve got. The Guardian writes:

William Gumede, a political author and academic, said: “Mandela’s death has rescued Zuma politically. He was getting to a tipping point with Nkandla and other crises. It was also the week when the unions were going to decide whether to form their own political party but now that has been postponed.

“So the ANC might get some temporary relief. Its own polls had said the highest they could get in the election was 55% and the lowest 45%. But now they might get 60% again because people who’d decided they weren’t going to vote may now give them one more chance.”

No sausage, just sizzle. No worker’s paradise,  just corruption and decline. And while the debacle in South Africa was not Obama’s fault,  Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post last month, predicted that incompetence might undo Obama yet. It was often the worm that brought down the lofty tower of dreams.

If Barack Obama has an image, it is of the infinitely cool, cerebral leader…. Yet this same man has lately so mishandled both domestic and foreign policy that he is in mortal peril of altering his image. …

Where is Casey Stengel when we need him? In 1962, as the manager of the brand new and determinedly hapless New York Mets — 40 wins, 120 losses — he looked up and down his bench one dismal day and wondered, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Presidents are often elected on vague promises. But in the end they have to deliver. And to deliver competence matters. Deval Patrick dismissed criticism of Obamacare  saying, “the Affordable Care Act, is not a website.  It’s a values statement.” That’s like saying sign language is not a language.  It’s just elegant sound and fury signifying nothing.

If Zuma stuck with what he knew it would have been alright.  Zuma is probably a moderately competent political thug.  But when he tried to personate a statesman trouble was bound to follow.

The fiasco probably had its roots in these Western television programs which regularly feature sign language speakers for those with disabilities.  Zuma on seeing these western programs must have said, “get me one of those signers too.” Just as some who want to be “respectable”, wear a suit those who wanted a proper telecast enlisted a sign language man.  The Narrative, you know.

However, since most of the ANC and probably Zuma himself could hear just fine nobody actually knew what the sign language man was saying.  They slapped on the window dressing without being able to judge it, rather like the man who accepts a paper in abstract math without having a clue what it says.  Or the post modern journal that accidentally publishes a spoof of itself.

And once the fraud was standing at the right hand of Zuma, he was legitimized by proximity. For to say that President Zuma’s sign language translator was bogus would be tantamount to calling Zuma a fool and dupe, which he was, but who would say it? And the farce continued, until as is the case with all fraud, the imposture got too big for its britches. It went on international TV and finally somebody somewhere said, “the Emperoror has no clothes”.

The whole edifice of legitimacy was founded on social proof which works until it hits reality. Whether Zuma will catch up with this imposter remains to be seen.  It would be best if he never does, for who wants to be reminded of his own gullibility.


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Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
If I was President Obama I would be very angry about this. Can you imagine being onstage with an unqualified person who has no idea how to do his job, who instead stands up there making empty gestures?

I mean, really. Stealing his act *right in front of him*? The gall.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"“Mandela’s death has rescued Zuma politically."
That is Motive and the ANC certainly had Opportunity and enough experience with Method. Was Mandela another timely martyr for The Cause?

How did the imposter get the job? The same way you get any job in a crony corruptocracy like RSA, soon to be called Big Chicago. You get sent by somebody who knows somebody. When will we see the MSNBC tape accusing us all of being raaaacist for criticizing the ANC? Dare to draw an analogy between incompetent crony Socialism in the RSA and in the USA and you will be lynched.

The ANC defends the settlement in RSA by saying "It is worse in Zimbabwe." That unhappy country staggers along like South Africa's North Korea. What sustains the corrupt and incompetent government in the RSA? Resource extraction wealth and a hefty Design Margin built up over the last century. Neither will last.

Zuma is not Obama. He lacks Obama's unearned credentials. He is a purely political operative and a former member of the South African Communist Party Politburo. While crude and a polygamist who beat a rape charge he did extricate himself, with the strenuous help of the international media such as Charlize Theron, from his predecessors buffoonery regarding AIDS.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He rendered President Obama’s moving tribute in gestures of his own devising."

Heh. I could think of some gestures of my own devising more appropriate to both Mr. Obama and Mr. Mandela. There's enough fraud between the two of them to sink the world.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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Best signer explanation yet here [http://comonocreerendios-lem.blogspot.com/2013/12/sorted.html] first gif, explanatory balloon animal construction added to signs.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Update on Jantjie:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/mandela-signer-faced-murder-rap-in-2003/

Besides having severe mental health problems, he has been charged at various times in his life with murder, kidnapping, rape; getting off on the equivalent of our insanity plea each time.

1) with those qualifications, he will be snapped up by the White House and be alongside Jay Carney at future press briefings.

2) Given the number of the world's Nomenklatura who were within submachine gun, blast, or bat'leth range of this sterling exemplar of South African government competence; I suspect that there will be a number of security detail members who are going to get their collective genitalia in a wringer over this. So at least the protocol officer who seated the Danish Prime Minister next to Obama will not be alone.

Subotai Bahadur
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jay Carney says about the same as Jantjie was saying.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Alphacat sure knows how to sell ObamaCare to the "Young Invincibles, " ...jump on your mom's plan, that's how you get a hizzin'..." (starts at 1:02)

Who's your daddy Alphacat?

Here, you need something to treat that wussiness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpl_jPxSuFg

45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment


Fidel,
You have it backwards. Only crazy people can get near Obama. he has constructed a perfect screen to keep the sane away. Obama may be psychotic. Unable to deal with reality, he forces others to live in his fantasy world.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's apparent that crazy people are able to get within the immediate presence of President Obama. Obama was lucky this time.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
FWIW: "A man who stood close to President Obama and other heads of state while providing sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial Tuesday says he was hallucinating and hearing voices.

Thamsanqa Jantjie did not describe his qualifications for being a sign language interpreter, but told The Star he works for an interpreting company that paid him $85 for interpreting Tuesday's event. He told Radio 702 Thursday he's receiving treatment for schizophrenia and had an episode while on stage.

'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,' Jantjie was quoted as saying."

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/12/interpreter-for-mandela-memorial-says-was-hallucinating/?intcmp=latestnews

He was probably hearing voices telling him that if he likes his health insurance, he can keep it. As for that $85 fee, wait 'til he sees his new O-care premium.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or, he could be lying about being psycho.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fox has added a few more details since I posted this news item earlier this morning. Apparently the sign language guy has violent episodes: "'What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium ... I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I get violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me,' Jantjie said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing his hallucinations. . . . Asked how often he had become violent, he told The Associated Press said 'a lot' while declining to provide details. He also did not say which president he was referring to, but did apologize for his performance and admitted he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than a year."

Obviously the perfect candidate for the position of mental health czar for O-care. As for the "angels come to the stadium," I doubt he was referring to either the Obamas or the Clintons.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ace of Spades's take on this hilarious contretemps:

"The Daily Mail has a funny quote from someone who spotted the guy as a fake: he was merely "flapping his arms about."

He translated Barack Obama's statement that Nelson Mandela was "an unwavering beacon for those seeking the shores of freedom and dignity" by just miming the hand-signals from MC Hammer's "2 Legit 2 Quit."

Perfect!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a public service to those who voted for Obama and were not yet born in 1991.

MC Hammer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiyYozeOoKs

Our message to Obama

U Can't Touch This!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otCpCn0l4Wo
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought the commenter who called this guy "the black Fletch" pretty much nailed it.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 21st century Garrett Morris.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isn't this a fitting bookend on the life of a man who represented western moral preening. South africa and zimbabwe are not far off when it comes to political and social dysfunction. But my, what an opportunity for all the bien pensants to position themselves as paragons of justice and right. Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, names that roll off the tongue, against a bunch of hard headed backwards dutch religious exiles who introduced european farming techniques to the area. Who really cares about the victims of rape and other crimes. I can stand among the greats if I pronounce his name with respect.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I was President Obama I would be very angry about this. Can you imagine being onstage with an unqualified person who has no idea how to do his job, who instead stands up there making empty gestures?

I mean, really. Stealing his act *right in front of him*? The gall.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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