Deaf community outraged by fake interpreter during Obama’s Mandela speech

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It was one of the biggest media events of the year : The memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, but as world leaders including Barack Obama gave their speeches, an interpreter who didn’t even know the basics of sign language was unable to translate one word for the deaf community.

Earlier reports following Mandela’s state funeral highlighted Obama and David Cameron doing a ‘selfie’ which amused the world’s media, however this latest twist has become a national embarrassment for South Africa.

According to the LA Times, representatives of organizations such as Sign Language Education based in Cape Town stated that the interpreter had “Zero percent accuracy.”

The UK’s Guardian reported today that a member of the World Deaf Federation highlighted the fact that the interpreted was making up signs that were not in sync at all with what was being said.

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To add to the condemnation, CNN highlighted comments from Bruno Druchen, National Director of DeafSA stating that his sign language was “A total mockery of the language.”

The South African government have yet to make an official statement regarding the fake interpreter, and has so far put the media on hold.

With world leaders and celebrities attending Mandela’s funeral, news of the ‘fake interpreter’ has tainted the event, and will likely add strain to South Africa’s image abroad.

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