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Trevor Noah's Black Panther Joke At Oscars Earns Raves From South Africans

Trevor Noah on The Daily Show

Trevor Noah slipped in a secret Black Panther joke when he introduced the film as a Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards. The 91st Academy Awards were a tremendous success for Marvel Studios, with Black Panther netting them three Oscars, even if it didn't win the coveted Best Picture prize.

Black Panther was introduced by the African-born comedian, political commentator, and Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who actually had a secret cameo in the film when he voiced the Wakandan AI. As is Noah's wont, in his Oscar introduction he chose to blend humor and politics together, poking fun at both himself and American ignorance of Africa. In one perfect touch, he even slipped in a joke that only people who know the African language of Xhosa were able to get.

Related: Black Panther’s Oscars Show Superhero Movies Still Have A Long Way To Go

Noah took a moment to celebrate how people shout out "Wakanda Forever" to him, before drifting into an anecdote from his supposed childhood. "Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda I would see King T’Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase," Noah observed. "'Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka,' which means, 'In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.'" In actual fact, according to Woke Sloth that phrase has a very different meaning. It translates to, "White people don't know I'm lying."

It's a perfect inside joke, not least because Marvel used the Xhosa language to add a sense of authenticity to Black Panther. The actors actually learned a variant of the language, which is characterized by click consonants (in fact, to correctly pronounce “Xhosa,” the “X” begins with a click). John Kani, who played King T'Chaka in both Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, is a South African native who speaks Xhosa; director Ryan Coogler chose to make it the language of Wakanda after he visited South Africa, and befriended several Xhosa speakers. Noah was delighted, and has jokingly bragged about the fact he didn't need subtitles to know what he was saying when he played his part in the film.

Unsurprisingly, South African viewers found the gag hilarious, well aware they were the only ones who (initially) got the joke. Interestingly, though, there's been some argument that Noah was making a serious point beneath the witty pun; that it's all too easy to use language to lie and deceive, making a show of unity while secretly undermining it. It would certainly be in keeping for Noah to stress such an important observation in a humorous way, that he knew would ultimately get a lot more attention than any straightforward philosophical or political argument. It's difficult to say whether or not Noah did mean his point to have a serious undercurrent. Whether that's the case or not, though, he certainly found the perfect way to make the ultimate inside joke at the Oscars.

More: Black Panther: Kevin Feige Reveals His Favorite Scene from the Film

Source: Woke Sloth

Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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