One moment that’s still being analyzed from Sunday’s Academy Awards happened during the introduction of Best Picture nominee “Black Panther” by Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah.
Noah gave part of his comments in the South African Xhosa language, then translated the passage, saying it meant, “In times like these we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.”
It went over well at the time, but later some observers who know the language pointed out that what Noah said actually translates to: “White people don’t know I’m lying.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Noah may have found the inspiration for his gag in a similar stunt pulled off by Sitting Bull way back in 1883.
Delivering a speech in his native tongue in commemoration of the completion of the Northern Pacific railroad to the West Coast — an event that presumably wasn’t cause for celebration for a chief who fought all his life against the incursion of settlers in the West — Sitting Bull was expected to deliver words of reconciliation and friendship, but included a comment that translates to “I hate all the white people.”
Sitting Bull reportedly smiled to President Grant and other dignitaries in attendance before adding: “You are thieves and liars. You have taken away our land and made us outcasts.”
Here’s a clip of Noah’s Oscars appearance …