Sign Language Interpreter from Mandela’s Funeral – What Was He Actually Saying?: A Little Friday Funny

YouTube Preview ImageIn case you haven’t heard about it, news agencies have been reporting that a man posing as a sign-language interpreter was on stage during Nelson Mandela’s funeral this week, standing next to heads of state including President Obama. Only problem is that he didn’t really know sign language and wasn’t signing their remarks. The story gets even more bizarre. According to a report in the NYTimes this morning, the man, Thamsanqa Jantjie, is a paranoid schizophrenic with violent tendencies who was hallucinating the entire time.

“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium,” he told The Associated Press. “I start realizing that the problem is here,” he said. “And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent.” He added, “Sometimes I will see things that chase me.”

“I was in a very difficult position,” Mr. Jantjie said. “And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I’ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn’t embarrass my country… I would like to tell everybody that if I have offended them, please forgive me,” he said. “I was doing what I believe makes a difference in the country.”

I feel really bad for this guy. Sounds like he’s a pretty troubled man.

I’m guessing that somebody with the Secret Service is currently undergoing an unpleasant performance review. How you let a paranoid schizophrenic with violent tendencies, who is currently masquerading as a sign language interpreter while having hallucinations of angels descending into the stadium stand two feet from the American president will probably be the main thrust of that discussion.

Jimmy Kimmel decided to bring in a real interpreter to tell viewers what the man was actually saying. It’s pretty hilarious. This is like something out of a Naked Gun movie. It’s pretty funny. So say a quick prayer for a troubled man named Thamsanqa Jantjie, that he’ll be okay and get some help. Watch the video and have a good laugh. Then get back to work and have a great Friday everyone.

About Tim Suttle

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Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.