Literally Meaningless Signs at Mandela Memorial

The interpreter for the deaf at the Nelson Mandela memorial service held in South Africa was apparently a fake. He was not signing in any recognized sign language. He was apparently just waving his hands in the air; his gestures meant nothing to anyone but himself.

Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, first noticed the meaningless gibberish the man was signing at the Mandela Memorial, saying the interpreter was “moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for.” South Africa is currently preparing a statement for what another sign language expert called “an absolute circus.”

But these weren’t the only meaningless signs at the Mandela memorial. President Obama shook hands with Fidel Castro’s son Raul Castro, whatever that means. Critics think it is a sign of Obama’s dangerous naivety concerning Castro’s brutal regime. Advocates think it will mark a thawing of Cuban-American relations. It probably doesn’t mean anything at all.

In fact, most of the signs of unity and solidarity at the Mandela memorial probably mean nothing. Most of the gestures meant to honor the first black president of South Africa amount to little more than PR and smoke-blowing.

Need proof? How about Obama’s cheeky selfie with the British PM and a flirty Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Apparently Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish leader who sat next to Obama for most of the proceedings, thought it a good idea to share jokes and laugh with Obama during the order of service. The only person in their local vicinity who seemed to recognize just how tasteless all these shenanigans were was Obama’s wife, who sat aside with a rather sour look on her face. Michelle eventually broke up the little party by sitting between her husband and Thorning-Schmidt.

The only person who absolutely received no love was current South African president Jacob Zuma. He was loudly booed and publicly humiliated. South Africans will never forgive him for his “homophobia” and “self-hate.” And they apparently hold him responsible for their currently miserable quality of life. In other words, the clearest inheritor of the reality of Mandela’s legacy is the only person no one at the Mandela memorial wants to hear. Classic. These people might as well have been deaf.