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Nelson Mandela's Memorial Had a Fake Sign Language Translator Who Made Up His Own Gestures

Nelson Mandela Memorial, Sign Language, Barack Obama SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images; ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

Tuesday's memorial service for the late Nelson Mandela was meant to be a moving tribute so millions of viewers could honor and grieve the beloved South African statesman. And it really was, unless you were part of the deaf community, because the sign language translator that was present for the speeches reportedly had no idea what he was doing. 

According to Nicole Du Toit, an official interpreter who spoke with the Daily Mail, the unidentified man who signed along while politicians like President Barack Obama spoke was not using sign language at all. In fact, it seemed that he was making up his own version of sign language as he went along. 

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'It was horrible, an absolute circus, really, really bad," Du Toit said. "Only he can understand those gestures."

Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, told SBS news the same thing: that man definitely had no idea what he was doing, and he "made up his own signs."

Maybe Neslon Mandela's memorial service being broadcast around the world is not the place you try out your new version of sign language. Mandela's legacy deservers so much better. Watch the video of the translator above, and try not to liken it to this:

 

Flailing Arm GIF

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