Avatar photo

By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist


Sign Language activist Andiswa Gebashe will crack your ribs with laughter: Here is why

Sign language activist collaborates with comedians to present Sign comedy and hopes to strengthen social cohesion.


After the signing into law of South African Sign Language (SASL), making it the 12th official lingo in Mzansi, activist Andiswa Gebashe is now collaborating with comedians Tats Nkonzo and Mo Mothebe to incorporate Sign into Stand-up comedy.

On July 19 President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law SASL as South Africa’s 12th official language and Nkonzo quickly had the idea to include Gebashe in his set at Shakers in Maboneng, Johannesburg, that very night.

“At the time, I was at Union Building, witnessing President Ramaphosa signing SASL into an official language. I thought it was appropriate to say yes to him, and he’s such a charming guy that it’s difficult to say no to him,” Gebashe told to The Citizen.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tats Nkonzo (@tatsnkonzo)

“It was brilliant, I could feel it was something special as it was happening and it was something the audience had never seen,” said Nkonzo speaking to The Citizen.

“From that moment … we saw it fitting to make the circle bigger and extend it to Deaf audiences and upcoming Deaf comedians,” said Gebashe.

They have had some trial runs in the past few weeks and will now start hosting the Deaf comedy show once a month at the Alliance Française of Johannesburg.

A sign that it works

The comedian, who can also hold a note, said the main reason for roping-in Gebashe was because he doubted if he could handle the crowd by himself, so he sort for her help.

Nkonzo said having someone interpreting in Sign Language was not at all disturbing during his set.

“It worked so well, everybody is going to want to do it, seeing Andi perform that first night was amazing,” said Nkonzo.

Nkonzo said Gebashe brings entertainment to the show. On stage, it’s not those Sign Language acts she is famous for on tv, there is a comic twist to the straight-faced interpretations.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tats Nkonzo (@tatsnkonzo)

“More than just Signing words, it’s entertainment. A lot of us are ignorant about Sign Language and this is inclusive but it also has an educational element to it,” said Mothebe.

Mothebe planned to take the show on the road, with Durban being their next stop on the 26 of October.

Inclusivity

To say she is passionate about Sign Language would be somewhat of an understatement. She describes it as her home language.

She does a lot of work through her company Andy Signs Productions. With experience that spans more than a decade, she wears various hats; an interpreter, activist and consultant.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gebashe stood next to the President as he delivered lockdown and Coronavirus updates.

“Since I can remember, Deaf comedians have existed.  My father was one of them. He went by the stage moniker “TwoBob” because he was/is a stingy man,” she said laughing. Her father is deaf and is a linguist. He only gave 20c to everybody who asked him for money.

Strengthening social cohesion

“I really believe that SASL will be the key to fostering social cohesion.  And one method to accomplish this goal is through comedy,” Gebashe said.

After their first show with Nkonzo, Gebashe did another one with comedian Mothebe and that show too, worked well.

Despite being always busy Gebashe said making time for this project won’t be an issue.

“Well, yho.. I believe in making time for things you love and enjoy. My work is always serious; this offers a chance to work and play simultaneously while laughing my lungs out.”

NOW READ: EXCLUSIVE: Andiswa Gebashe opens up about Sign as SA’s 12th official language

Read more on these topics

language