HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Trevor Noah attends
Trevor Noah at the 91st Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
  • Trevor Noah spoke in his mother tongue during his moment on stage at the Oscar awards ceremony.
  • In a seemingly grave moment, he translated the phrase as an inspiring call to unity in troubled times. 
  • In fact, he was saying: “White people don’t know I’m lying.”

Trevor Noah resorted to his South African mother tongue when he presented one of the Best Picture nominees, Black Panther, at the Oscars on Sunday night.

In a grave voice, the presenter of the Daily Show clicked his way through the isiXhosa words: 'Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka.' He translated as 'In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart’.

This was met with respectful clapping from the audience.

In fact, what he was saying was: “White people don’t know I’m lying.”

Noah’s prank made headlines across South Africa, with locals thrilled to be part of the in-joke. “Trevor Noah just pulled off a heist, and they clapped for him,” one South African tweeted.

IsiXhosa is heard in Black Panther itself, with the language used by some of the main characters throughout the movie. It is the second most-spoken mother tongue in South Africa, after isiZulu.

Noah was born to a black mother of isiXhosa descent and a white Swiss-German father in 1984, at the height of racial segregation in South Africa.

He also used his Oscar platform to take a dig at Mel Gibson, who has come under fire for racist remarks in recent years.

“Black Panther may be an African hero, but his story and his appeal are universal. I know this personally because of all the people that constantly come up to me and say, ‘Wakanda Forever!’”

”Mel Gibson came up to me like, ‘Wakanda Forever.’ He said another word after that, but the Wakanda part was nice.”

While Black Panther did not win the best picture award, it won best original score, best production design and best costume design at Sunday's 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

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