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  • 1. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa's first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign, was appointed superintendent of the organisation's Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served over 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release. He was released in 1990, during a time of escalating civil strife. Mandela joined negotiations with President F. W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to
  • 2. victory and became South Africa's first black president. He published his autobiography in 1995. During his tenure in the Government of National Unity he invited several other political parties to join the cabinet. As agreed to during the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa, he promulgated a new constitution. He also created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. While continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration also introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. A sign language interpreter who gesticulated nonsense during the Nelson Mandela memorial service while standing next to Barack Obama and other world leaders has admitted a history of violent behaviour and mental illness. Thamsanqa Jantjie blamed his incomprehensible signing on a hallucination brought on by his schizophrenia, in which he heard voices and saw angels entering the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, scene of a historic send-off for South Africa's first black president. With concerns growing over how he was hired and what security checks were made, Jantjie, 34, said on Thursday: "What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I start realising that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me." He added: "I was in a very difficult position. 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." Asked how often he had become violent, he said "a lot" while declining to provide details. He said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether his medication was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment. Jantjie also said he was officially classified as disabled because of his schizophrenia, and that his longest period in a mental institution was in 2006, when he had a stay of one year and seven months.
  • 3. He was shown video footage of him interpreting on stage at the memorial service. "I don't remember any of this at all," he said. "I would like to tell everybody that if I've offended anyone, please, forgive me," he added during the interview at his tidy cement house on the outskirts of Soweto. "But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling. I was doing what I believe makes a difference." Meanwhile, eNews Channel Africa reported that Jantjie had worked as an interpreter for South Africa's justice department for four years and allegedly held a staff member hostage by using a brick. In 2011 the department conducted an investigation into Jantjie for allegedly making false claims for 1.5m rand (£88,000) worth of interpretation work that he had not done, eNCA added. On Tuesday Jantjie shared a platform with Obama, South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, and other statesmen, interpreting their speeches before a global audience of millions. His hand gestures baffled and angered deaf viewers, who said he was signing gibberish and did not know even basic signs such as "thank you" or "Mandela". In a radio interview, Jantjie said he was happy with his performance at the memorial for Mandela, who died a week ago aged 95. "Absolutely," he told Talk 702 radio. "What I've been doing, I think I've been a champion of sign language. I've interpreted in many big events. I've interpreted in MaSisulu's [Albertina Sisulu's] funeral. I interpreted at the Brics conference." But he confirmed: "Yes, I'm currently a patient receiving treatment for schizophrenia." The South African government admitted that something had gone wrong but denied that Jantjie had posed a security risk. "I don't think it will get us anywhere to get into his health, his violence, his schizophrenia," said Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the deputy minister for women, children and people with disabilities. "I don't think other service providers or journalists there on the day had their health profiles discussed." Bogopane-Zulu conceded that Jantjie did not have the proper qualifications for such a prestigious role but insisted: "He was procured. He did not just rock up. Did a mistake happen? Yes. He became overwhelmed. He did not use the normal signs. We accept all that … It was bad. Was he a fake? No. Does he have the training? He has only the introduction to the training.
  • 4. That's like a lot of South Africans. "It is the first time I've seen complaints come to my office from the deaf community about him. It was the first time yesterday that the deaf community had brought it to my attention." Asked if anyone did understand Jantjie's gestures, she said only: "We will find someone who understands him, who requested his services, but we're not going to do it now." Asked if the incident had caused national embarrassment, Bogopane-Zulu insisted: "I don't think it's the right choice of word. I don't think he was just picked up from the street. He went to a school for the deaf; I went to a school for the deaf." South African sign language has more than 100 dialects, she argued, making it impossible to be understood by everyone. "Unless there's something I'm missing, I don't think we as a country should say we're embarrassed. The issue of sign language has always been about where you live, what school you go to and what language you speak." Jantjie's first language is Xhosa, one of 11 official languages in South Africa, the minister continued. She said: "He was not able to translate from English to Xhosa to sign language. He started well and then in the middle he got tired and lost concentration. That did not mean he is a bad sign language interpreter." Ordinarily, sign language interpreters in South Africa are switched every 20 minutes to maintain their concentration levels, she said. Jantjie was on the stage for the entire service, which lasted more than four hours. She admitted that SA Interpreters, the company that provided Jantjie, had a poor record. "We managed to get hold of them, and then we spoke to them wanting some answers and they vanished into thin air. It's a clear indication that over the years they have managed to get away with this. They have been providing substandard services to clients. The company has been in existence for a while but it looks like they have been cheating." Whereas the standard fee for an interpreter is 1,300 to 1,700 rand a day, she noted, Jantjie was being paid just 800 rand.
  • 5. The deputy minister declined to say who in South Africa's government was responsible for contracting the company or how those rules were flouted. "It's an interdepartmental responsibility," she said. "We are trying to establish what happened." She refused to rule out the possibility that he might be hired again. "Will we invite him to big national events in future? It's not for me to stand here and say yes or no." The governing African National Congress said it had used Jantjie's services over the years, but was not involved in the organisation of the memorial service, and was therefore "not in a position to offer a view on how his services were secured by the government". South Africa's leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a fake, saying he was inventing signs, and described the episode as an insult to deaf people and Mandela himself. Asked about the risk from a man apparently suffering from violent episodes, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney said: "For matters regarding the president's security I would refer you to the secret service. They took the precautions necessary to ensure the president's safety." The controversy has marred South Africa's 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose remains lay in state for a second day on Thursday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, attracting thousands of people. An estimated 13-14,000 people filed past his casket on Wednesday, officials estimated.
  • 6. The deputy minister declined to say who in South Africa's government was responsible for contracting the company or how those rules were flouted. "It's an interdepartmental responsibility," she said. "We are trying to establish what happened." She refused to rule out the possibility that he might be hired again. "Will we invite him to big national events in future? It's not for me to stand here and say yes or no." The governing African National Congress said it had used Jantjie's services over the years, but was not involved in the organisation of the memorial service, and was therefore "not in a position to offer a view on how his services were secured by the government". South Africa's leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a fake, saying he was inventing signs, and described the episode as an insult to deaf people and Mandela himself. Asked about the risk from a man apparently suffering from violent episodes, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney said: "For matters regarding the president's security I would refer you to the secret service. They took the precautions necessary to ensure the president's safety." The controversy has marred South Africa's 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose remains lay in state for a second day on Thursday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, attracting thousands of people. An estimated 13-14,000 people filed past his casket on Wednesday, officials estimated.