Thamsanqa Jantjie was the sign language interpreter for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. He was a fake. He didn’t use any recognizable sign language.
Think about it – a guy could stand just a few feet from some of the world leaders. What about security issues? Somehow he fooled everyone to stand in that position. To make matters even worse it has been discovered that he has suffered from a schizophrenic episode that made him see angels and hear voices. It is reported that he also faced a murder charge in 2003.
This has happened in sports. Read my blog posted on November 9, 2011, about Barry Bremen who impersonated an NBA All-Star, an umpire, a cheerleader and movie stars. He was good – but a fake!
Thamsanqa said you don’t have to actually know what you are doing in order to get a job. You have to look like you know what you are doing. You have to go through the motions.
Why didn’t someone catch this sooner? Sign languages are grammatically structured, like all natural human languages. You can’t just go up and wave your arms and hands. He certainly didn’t use South African sign language. It was even said that he didn’t use any language!
We are learning that many can “talk the talk but not sign the sign.” Evidently this has become more of a problem throughout the world.
It is easy to quickly condemn what happened in South Africa. The people there are very embarrassed and have apologized profusely, but people allowed a fake person to get in a prominent position of power and leadership.
It made me think about some areas of life today where we might have fakes in powerful and influential positions. When I watch television commercials I see a lot of people “signing” about the way you can have a wonderful Christmas if you go out and purchase the latest gadgets. It is okay even to put them on credit cards and pay for them much later. The message implied is that in order to have a great Christmas you have to buy certain products. Fake!
The truth is that the best gifts at Christmas are not always those that you buy in a store, but when you give something of yourself. Time is one of the greatest gifts to give. Christmas would be much more exciting for most children and young people if all of us adults gave them more time. Many family members spell love T I M E.
As we begin a new year, each of us is called on to “sign the sign not just talk the talk” as far as our Christian witness is made. The greatest detriment to a positive witness is a lifestyle that is inconsistent with what one says. It is easy to be a hypocrite, a fake. We need to check out ourselves to see what kind of sign interpreter we are. Our lives are sign language that interprets Christianity to the world.
The Christmas story is about the person who was never false or fake. It is about Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He told the truth when He said that if we seek Him first everything we need would be provided. (Matthew 6:33)
May Thamsanqa Jantjie’s tribe decrease. May authentic sign language interpreters of the Christmas message increase!
Talk the talk – Sign the sign!!