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Sympathy for Mr Jantjie

12 December 2013, 19:26

While we mourn and celebrate Madiba’s life well-lived, one cannot help it but feel great sympathy Mr Jantjie.  The joyful spirit he experienced has dissipated and replaced with extreme humiliation on a global stage.  An event which should have catapulted him into the hall of fame has instead reduced all his life’s work to nil.  How I feel for the man!

Mr Jantjie’s core argument is “why now?” after he performed his work at many events of national interest.  If we can put ourselves in his shoes, it can be easier to empathize with him.  This is not to poor cold water on the sharp criticisms against his failure to convert former President Thabo Mbeki into a sign language.  It will be like defending a maths teacher who cannot tell an answer to 1 plus 1.  All of us would immediately question the recruitment process and demand immediate changes.

However, if you are musician who specialises at ‘discussing’ songs like the writer of this article, but are overwhelmed with invitations to perform at national platforms, would it not be reasonable to consider yourself a rock star? 

I am dad sure you will consider yourself a true sensation and dismiss any sceptic as envious of your successes.  The publicised rejection the interpreter experienced will inflict agony that will last for a very long time.  It’s like being thrown down from the apex of a ladder.  If you escape death, you consider yourself very lucky.   

As Mr Jantjie recounted events where he provided his services, I think the ruling party should shoulder some responsibility.  While it did not have control over the regrettable booing of our President, it had total control over who to appoint for such a momentous event.  For Madiba, only crem de la crem would do.  Settling for a candidate who does not even possess rudimentary elements of his trade is a disservice to the deaf community and our statesman who sacrificed immeasurably for a country.

This shameful development is perhaps a further signal of our shoddy procurement processes which values patronage over quality.  People who suffer are ordinary citizens of our country for whom Madiba endured 27 years of confinement.  In this instance, our deaf citizens bore the brunt despite their prior complaints against the performance of Mr Jantjie. 

This entrenches the sentiment that the ruling party does not listen and consequently people will resort to externalizing their resentment even in inappropriate platforms.  In this case the outcome was a global shame which muddied the send-off of our most loved and treasured citizen.  The lesson is that if we ignore a molehill, it soon becomes a mountain.

I feel for Mr Jantjie and hope that people with relevant expertise may help restore him and help him discover abilities that can help him earn a livelihood for his family.  He is a victim of our beautifully written procurement procedures subject to different implementation rules that only exist in someone’s medulla oblongata.

Will there be consequences for those responsible for such a disgraceful scenario?  To phrase it differently, is there a good track record of punishing those who flout the rules?  For an answer, just visit our parliament.             

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