Home » Uncategorized » Mandela Memorial Interpreter: The Same Old Oppression

Mandela Memorial Interpreter: The Same Old Oppression


Destiny Yarbro

Founder & CEO

In the tumult of this week’s news, many may wonder why a fake interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial was such a big deal. After all, the memorial wasn’t for Deaf people, it was for Mandela. Right?


Why did millions, perhaps even billions, tune in to watch the memorial this week? Nelson Mandela wasn’t just a good South African. He was a symbol to the world. He represented FREEDOM. Freedom from OPPRESSION.

How ironic, then, that a fake interpreter would attend.


The thing is, Deaf are very familiar with oppression. We have been fighting an apartheid of our own. Braam Jordaan from the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section, was the one to ask for an “end [to] communication Apartheid”. [Read more here.]


So when a fake interpreter stood before a worldwide audience and made up gestures, he was saying the following:

1. Deaf aren’t smart enough to recognize the difference between gestures and sign language.

2. Deaf don’t deserve equal access.

3. Deaf don’t have the guts to stand up to this kind of subtle oppression.

4. Deaf don’t deserve to fully take part in honoring this incredible man.

5. Deaf are still oppressed, despite Mandela’s efforts to overthrow oppression.

What a slap in the face to Mandela and all he stood for. My only joy has been to see the Deaf community stand together to say “No More!” Thousands of newspapers and online news sites have shared this story and the impact could be huge for the worldwide Deaf community.


If you want to read more, check out these:

The Telegraph [My personal favorite video/article.]

ABC News

CNN News




The Independent

Interview with Marlee Matlin

[This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.]




  1. Bravo! Add Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/mandela-ceremony-interpreter-deemed-a-fake/2013/12/11/f426a79a-6256-11e3-af0d-4bb80d704888_story.html I was disgusted with White House Josh Earnest’s comment dismissing the lack of access, as well as Donvan’s…. your article here needs to be sent to them!

  2. kdb71 says:

    I have been trying to find a way to put into words my own sentiments about this..I am not a signer, I would be considered a speaking Deaf person. I may still attempt something about this though. It is disgusting what that man did, just for posterity.

  3. Destiny says:

    Reblogged this on Bring Me That Horizon and commented:
    I figure I should make my opinion known while the earth’s eyes are open to the Deaf world for a moment. A fake interpreter reveals a deeper, darker problem in the world at large: Deaf are still oppressed.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: