How One Misrepresentation Raised Awareness on the Power of ‘Voice’ Through Sign Language

Thamsanqa Jantjie
Thamsanqa Jantjie

Thamsanqa Jantjie’s presence as a sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service may go down in history as one nation’s greatest public faux pas committed at the worst possible time…  And while Jantjie may now be under investigation for alleged charges of the past, his bogus representation on December 11th did highlight the importance of: 1) background checks; 2) the necessity for attention to detail; and 3) the ability to share words, universally, in a way that others can both hear and understand.

The irony of how language was lost through such gross misrepresentation, and then somehow transformed into a raised awareness for the hearing impaired – and the importance of language, is not lost on us.  On this week’s VoiceBox highlight – we share the work of Rives, from his performance on Def Poetry Jam (2004), who so eloquently imparts his own interpretation on the importance of ‘voice‘ through sign language:

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