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The Death of Nelson Mandela

International reactions to the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela

  • South African President Jacob Zuma walks onto pitch for #Mandela memorial. Crowd cheers, calls out his last name.
  • After the cheering for South African President Jacob Zuma, the crowd filled with ANC colors began booing him at the #Mandela memorial.
  • The stadium is continuing to fill in South Africa, as both foreign and domestic dignitaries keep arriving.

     
  • #Mandela memorial begins with a beautiful rendition of the South African national anthem.
  • The memorial service has officially begun. The service started with a beautiful rendition of the country's national anthem. Crowds then cheered 'long live' Nelson Mandela.

    Cyril Ramaphosa was the first speaker. He apologized for the rain but said this is how Nelson Mandela would have wanted it, saying the rain was a blessing. 

    'This occasion should make all of us to pause today and reflect on the life of Nelson Mandela," Ramaphosa said, adding that the ceremony should give everyone cause to gather their memories of Mandela.

    "With the weight of burden on his shoulders, he worked to free us all," Ramaphosa said of Mandela. "He was our teacher and our mentor."

    Following Ramaphosa's speech, he asked for the ceremony to start with an opening prayer. 
  • Obama motorcade now making its way to the FNB stadium.

  • Graca Machel, widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela, is seen in this still image taken from video courtesy of the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) at the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium ahead of Mandela's national memorial service in Johannesburg December 10, 2013. REUTERS/SABC 


  • As #mandelamemorial starts, US President Obama leaves downtown Johannesburg hotel, races to Soweto stadium
  • Crowd at FNB Stadium now sings for "Tata Mandiba" at #Mandela memorial.
  • People in crowd pump their fists in the air, in the upper decks, some jumped up and down as they cheered. #Mandela
  • First reference to US President Barack Obama at FNB Stadium for #Mandela memorial. Crowd cheers, though he's not here yet.
  • Andrew Mlangeni, #Mandela family friend: “He touched my heart, my soul, my life and those of the millions of South Africans."
  • Andrew Mlangeni is now speaking at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.


    Mlangeni has a long history with Mandela. GlobalPost writer Erin Conway-Smith calls him Mandela's 'ANC comrade.'


  • Mourners wave during the national memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg December 10, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/REUTERS) 


  • Obama update: Pulling up to the stadium now.
  • Thanduxolo Mandela: "I'm sure Madiba is smiling from above" as he looks down on the faces gathered here.
  • Thanduxolo Mandela: "As a family we have no option but to be powered by the principles of Nelson Mandela. He would accept no less."
  • Thanduxolo Mandela: "Tata has gone from before our eyes but never from our hearts and minds."
  • Nelson Mandela's grandchildren and great-grandchildren are on stage now. They begin by thanking the heads of state who are in attendance.


     The family says Mandela towers in their thoughts, adding that they 'salute' him.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama here, shown on television with wife. The crowd simply erupts at #Mandela memorial.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela.


    "South Africa has lost a hero", Ban said, adding that Mandela was one of the 'greatest leaders' of our time. South Africa has lost a father, the UN chief said. 

    "He hated hatred," Ban said. "The United Nations stood side by side with Nelson Mandela," in the fight against apartheid, Ban added.

    "Nelson Mandela showed us the way with a heart larger than this stadium," Ban said.
  • The crowd waving to Bill Clinton as he, Hillary and Chelsea arrive.
  • The rain is showing no sign of letting up, but the crowd remains festive. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BbHrBMACYAA1Ifk.jpg

  • "When the history of our struggle is written it will tell a glorious tale of African solidarity" - #AUCommission 's Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
  • BIG MOMENT: President Obama shakes the hand of Raul Castro as he takes stage at #MandelaMemorial
  • President Obama was the first foreign leader to speak at the Nelson Mandela memorial


    "The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us," Obama said, adding that Mandela would emerge as the 'last great liberator' of the twentieth century.

    Obama was the first foreign leader, other than Ban Ki-moon to speak in honor of Madiba He delivered quite a forceful, emphatic speech in Madiba's honor, pressing the point that Madiba was a man to be emulated and his work must be continued.

    Obama praised Mandela's willingness to step down from power after only one term. 

    "It's tempting to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon," Obama said, adding that Madiba 'strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait.'

    However, Mandela was not a bust made of marble but a man of flesh and blood, which is what made him so remarkable, Obama told the jubilant crowd in South Africa. 

    "Mandela taught us the power of action but he also taught us the power of ideas," Obama said, adding that Mandela understood ideas couldn't be contained by prison walls or snuffed out by a sniper's bullet. 

    Nelson Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit, Obama told the crowded stadium. 

    "It took a man like Madiba not just to free the prisoner, but the jailer as well," Obama said of Madiba.

    "We too must act on behalf of justice," Obama continued at Madiba's memorial. While the world will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again, Obama urged students in South Africa to make Madiba's work their own. 

    While he acknowledges he will always fall short of Mandela's example, Obama said the great leader 'makes me want to be a better man.'
  • Obama: "Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. "
  • Obama: "#Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments."
  • Here is the full text of the remarks Pres. Obama delivered Tuesday at Nelson Mandela's memorial service: 


    Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery


    Remembering Nelson Mandela


    Johannesburg, South Africa


    December 10, 2013


     To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of state and government, past and present; distinguished guests - it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other.  To the people of South Africa - people of every race and walk of life - the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.  His struggle was your struggle.  His triumph was your triumph.  Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.


     It is hard to eulogize any man - to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person - their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul.  How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.


     Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe - Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century.  Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement - a movement that at its start held little prospect of success.  Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice.  He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War.  Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would - like Lincoln - hold his country together when it threatened to break apart.  Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations - a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.


     Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men.  But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories.  “I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.


     It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection - because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried - that we loved him so.  He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood - a son and husband, a father and a friend.  That is why we learned so much from him; that is why we can learn from him still.  For nothing he achieved was inevitable.  In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith.  He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.


     Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals.  Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Certainly he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.


     But like other early giants of the ANC - the Sisulus and Tambos - Madiba disciplined his anger; and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand-up for their dignity.  Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price.  “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial.  “I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.  But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.


     Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t.  He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.  He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement.  And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.


     Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions.  He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history.  On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”  But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal.  And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.


     Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit.  There is a word in South Africa- Ubuntu - that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.  We can never know how much of this was innate in him, or how much of was shaped and burnished in a dark, solitary cell.  But we remember the gestures, large and small - introducing his jailors as honored guests at his inauguration; taking the pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS - that revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding.  He not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.  It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.


     For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe - Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate his heroic life.  But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask:  how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?


     It is a question I ask myself - as a man and as a President.  We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation.  As was true here, it took the sacrifice of countless people - known and unknown - to see the dawn of a new day.  Michelle and I are the beneficiaries of that struggle.  But in America and South Africa, and countries around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not done.  The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important.  For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future.  Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.


     We, too, must act on behalf of justice.  We, too, must act on behalf of peace.  There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.  There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.  And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.


     The questions we face today - how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war - do not have easy answers.  But there were no easy answers in front of that child in Qunu.  Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done.  South Africa shows us that is true.  South Africa shows us we can change.  We can choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes.  We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.


     We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.  But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you can make his life’s work your own.  Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land.  It stirred something in me.  It woke me up to my responsibilities - to others, and to myself - and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today.  And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better.  He speaks to what is best inside us.  After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength - for his largeness of spirit - somewhere inside ourselves.  And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach - think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell:


     It matters not how strait the gate,


    How charged with punishments the scroll,


    I am the master of my fate:


    I am the captain of my soul.


     What a great soul it was.  We will miss him deeply.  May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela.  May God bless the people of South Africa.


  • Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is now speaking at the memorial 

  • President Obama caused quite a stir Tuesday when he shook hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. 

    POLITICO's Jennifer Epstein wonders whether the move was simply to be polite or whether it marked something more in international relations. From POLITICO: 

    Undoubtedly in part an effort to be polite, the handshake also comes not long after Obama indicated a desire to update U.S. policies toward Cuba.

    "We have to be creative and we have to be thoughtful and we have to continue to update our policies," he said at a fundraiser in Florida last month, noting that Fidel Castro came to power more than half a century ago.

    "I think we all understand that ultimately, freedom in Cuba will come because extraordinary activists and the incredible courage of folks like we see here today," he said. "But the United States can help."



    Reuters also found the handshake particularly noteworthy. 

    U.S. President Barack Obama shook the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a rare gesture between the leaders of two nations at loggerheads for more than half a century.

    With Mandela's message of reconciliation hanging over the ceremony, Castro smiled as Obama shook his hand on the way to the podium to make a rousing speech in memory of the former South African president, one of the world's greatest peacemakers, who died on Thursday aged 95.

    Tens of thousands of singing and dancing mourners braved hours of torrential rain at Johannesburg's Soccer City as 90-odd world dignitaries filed into the stadium.

    The crowd emitted a huge roar as Obama took his seat, in marked contrast to the boos that greeted South African President Jacob Zuma, a scandal-plagued leader whose weaknesses have been cast into sharp relief by Mandela's death.



  • U.S. President Barack Obama pays his respect to late South African President Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel after his speech at the memorial service forMandela at the First National Bank stadium (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)


  • Cyril Ramaphosa admonishing the crowd at #Mandela memorial to be quiet: ""Let us send him off with greater discipline."
  • The crowd is getting a bit out of control in South Africa. Attendees in the stands are playing loud music, cheering, and generally making quite a bit of noise in the stands.

    Cyril Ramaphosa has had to ask the crowd for greater control multiple times.

    "You will play your wonderful music in a little while," he said, while assuring the crowd there are only three more speakers. "So put the music down. Let the president of India continue, please."
  • Celebrating one of his personal heroes, President Barack Obama praised Nelson Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century, urging the world to carry on his legacy by fighting inequality, poverty and discrimination.

    At a memorial service in Johannesburg, Obama compared the former South African President to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. He said Mandela had earned his place in history through struggle, shrewdness, persistence and faith.

    "For nothing he achieved was inevitable," Obama said. "In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, persistence and faith. He tells us what's possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well."

    In a rain-soaked stadium where world leaders gathered to honor the anti-apartheid leader, Obama traced the influence that Mandela's story has had on his own life, disclosing that he asks himself how well he's applied Mandela's lessons to himself as a man and as president.

    He said in the U.S., South Africa and around the world, people must not allow progress that's been made to cloud the fact that more work must be done.

    "We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality," Obama said, referring to Mandela by his traditional clan name.

    Joining Obama on the 16-hour trip from Washington for the ceremony were first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also attended the memorial service.

    [The Associated Press]

  • #Mandela will remain 'a beacon for what can be achieved to advance peace dignity and reconciliation' OPCW Director-General #NobelPeacePrize
  • Cuba's Raul Castro also delivered a speech in Mandela's honor. As The Associated Press' Julie Pace pointed out, it is a rare event when a Cuban leader and an American one speak at the same event. 

    During his speech, Castro highlighted the fact that Cubans has fought alongside Africans. 
  • Crowds dwindled a bit ahead of South African President Jacob Zuma's speech at #Mandela memorial. What will he say after being booed?
  • South African President Jacob Zuma is now speaking at Mandela's memorial. Zuma was repeatedly booed previously during the ceremony. 

     
    Reuters reported he was booed and jeered as he took the podium. 

    Mandela's death has marked an 'unprecedented' outpouring of grief around the world, Zuma said at the start of his speech. 

    "That we are Madiba's compatriots and have lived during his time is a cause for a great celebration and enormous pride," Zuma told the stadium. The stadium was much quieter during Zuma's speech, which was marked with less celebrating and music than those of other world leaders. 

    There are many times Mandela brought the nation back from the 'brink of catastrophe,' Zuma said during his speech. "Indeed, there is no one like Madiba."

    "Today the whole world is standing still again to pay tribute to this greatest son of South Africa and Africa. There is no one like Madiba. He is one of a kind," Zuma continued.

    Toward the end of his speech, Zuma announced that the union buildings and theater where Mandela was inaugurated as president, and where his body will lie in state, will henceforth be called the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater.
  • Remarkable contrast in audience reax to speakers at #mandela memorial. #Obama & #Castro were cheered, current S.A. Zuma booed
  • Zuma: "He was a fearless freedom fighter who refused to allow the brutal apartheid state to stand in the way of the struggle."
  • Cringe at the boos and people leaving - #Zuma is on, but he too did time on Robben Island, so much has changed #MandelaMemorial
  • No future vision or frank reckoning with challenges facing SA in Zuma's speech, read with little conviction. Worthy of Madiba? #fb
  • Big crowd of people doing circuits of the stadium, singing their way around and round and round! #MandelaMemorial #Madiba
  • And that's a wrap for Obama at FNB. Rolling to his hotel for a few hours, then we're Washington-bound
  • Ramaphosa came back on stage following another round of prayers by religious leaders to thank the medical team that cared for Mandela at the end of his life.  He also thanked Madiba's household staff and many others for the 'wonderful work they did.'

    Lastly, Ramaphosa thanked the Mandela family for 'having given [Mandela] to the nation.'
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu is closing the memorial ceremony.

     "I stand here as an old man," Tutu said. 

    Rather than delivering a traditional blessing, Tutu called on the stadium to show the world 'we are disciplined' and bellowed "I want to hear a pin drop."

    The oft-raucous stadium became nearly silent at Tutu's words. Tutu then delivered a very short blessing.
  • The memorial service has officially ended at 4:05 p.m. local time, 9:05 a.m. ET.
  • The U.S. Senate joins the world in mourning the loss of #NelsonMandela . May his commitment to freedom and reconciliation continue to inspire
  • Amazing day paying tribute to life and legacy of #Mandela . God bless his soul and the people of South Africa.
  • A man holds a South African flag at the Memorial Service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, in Johannesburg December 10, 2013. (Reuters/Ihsaan Haffejee)

  • Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech in honor of Nelson Mandela on the Senate floor Tuesday morning: 

    “Tens of thousands gathered today in Soweto to pay their last respects to a man who symbolized so much for so many. And it’s not hard to see why. Politicians come and go. Presidents rise and fall. But Nelson Mandela was more than a politician, more than just a foreign leader. He was a symbol — a symbol of freedom and hope, not only for his own people, but for all people. But we also remember Nelson Mandela as a symbol of reconciliation, especially when he had every reason not to be. How many of us could spend so many years in confinement — away from the people we love, with little to do but mull the circumstances of our incarceration — and emerge so forgiving toward our captors.

    “To me, it was telling to see that one of the many people paying respects to Nelson Mandela this week was an Afrikaner named Christo Brand. The two men struck up an improbable, but lasting, friendship during Mandela’s time on Robben Island. I say ‘improbable’ because Brand was his jailer.

    “The story goes that years after his release from prison, President Mandela was attending a ceremony and greeting Members of Parliament when he spotted Brand across the room. Mandela lifted his arms and announced to everyone that this man had been his warden, but was also his friend. Then he asked Brand join him in a group photo. ‘You must stand next to me,’ he insisted, ‘We belong together.

    “I think that says it all.

    “Nelson Mandela could have followed the example of other leaders in the region. He could have led South Africa down the path of Zimbabwe.

    “But he didn’t. He urged his country to embrace inclusion and freedom and democracy instead. He asked his countrymen to stand with him, because he knew that, as he once said to Christo Brand, his people ‘belong together.’ So this morning, the Senate joins the world in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela. May his commitment to freedom and reconciliation continue to inspire.


  • World leaders eulogize Mandela – a 'giant of history'

    An unlikely cadre of world leaders spanning the political spectrum muted their differences to eulogize Nelson Mandela at a mass memorial in Soweto on Tuesday, an occasion that afforded an unprecedented handshake between U.S. President Barack Obama and Raul Castro, president of Cuba, a longtime foe.

    “He has done it again,” said UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon. “We see leaders representing many points of view, and people from all walks of life. All here, united."

    Obama and Castro met on stage, where both served as orators for the late South African president, who passed away Thursday night. Cuba and the U.S. cut off diplomatic ties during the Cold War and the U.S. maintains an embargo on the island nation — which a majority of Americans feel is the relic of a long-dormant feud.

    Click here for Al Jazeera's coverage of Nelson Mandela's legacy
    Perhaps inspired by the Mandela legacy of bridging political chasms and working with sworn enemies to achieve a political agenda, Obama, a second-term president with little to lose in the way of political capital, offered his Cuban counterpart a handshake.

    "It is hard to eulogize any man ... how much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation towards justice," said Obama, who was introduced to wild cheers at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, where Mandela was reintroduced to South Africa after being released from prison in 1990.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America.
  • The President, rocking a rain-soaked #mandela crowd. Big cheers. But big boos for SA president Zuma.. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BbIxyulCcAAr-dL.jpg

  • A man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a "fake," the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Tuesday.

    Asked about the claim by The Associated Press, South Africa's government said it was preparing a statement. Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the governing African National Congress party, declined to comment.

    "Government will be able to assist you," Mthembu said.

    Three sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages. South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages, according to the federation.

    The unidentified man seen around the world on television next to leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for," said Bruno Druchen, the federation's national director.

    Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said in a telephone interview that the man on stage purporting to sign was an embarrassment.

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

    South African parliament member Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, a member of the ruling party who is deaf and who is married to Druchen, also said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements. AP interviewed both Druchen, who also is deaf, and Newhoudt-Druchen by telephone using an interpreter.

    [The Associated Press]
  • The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial accused of being a fake has told The Associated Press he was hallucinating during the ceremony.

    From the AP:

    The man accused of faking sign-language while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he saw "angels" at the event, has been violent in the past and suffers from schizophrenia.

    Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.

    Jantjie, who stood gesticulating 3 feet (1 meter) from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday's ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.

    But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.

    "I would like to tell everybody that if I've offended anyone, please, forgive me," Jantjie said in his concrete home in a low-income Johannesburg neighborhood. "But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference."



    The Associated Press then reported later Thursday morning that a South African Cabinet minister admitted to making a mistake in hiring the man to act as an interpreter for the memorial. 
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