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VIDEO: Let Trevor Noah’s Grandmother School You On What Apartheid Was Really Like

By Rachel George

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While in town for the Global Citizen Festival this past weekend, host Trevor Noah stopped in Soweto to visit his 91-year-old grandmother to talk about his childhood, the police in South Africa, and the impact of Nelson Mandela to their country.

Noah gave us an inside look into his grandmother’s home where he grew up MTV Cribs style, “Oppression” edition, as he calls it.

His grandmother Koko described him as “energetic and really naughty” child, revealing she would hit him with her slipper when he was naughty. Growing up, he gave her a “tough time, “ so much so that she feared he’d be picked up by the “Flying Squad,” or police.

RELATED: Did Crime Steal The Show From Beyoncé And Jay-Z’s Global Citizen Performance?

According to her, black men were only allowed occupations such as nursing, teaching, or being a police man. Nelson Mandela was the wonder they had hoped for. “Madiba!” she exclaimed at Noah’s first mention of Mandela. “He was just like our God on Earth, really,” she said.

Koko unveiled that kids thought Noah was white when they first saw him in the neighborhood and praised his mother for his lively personality. She also said his mother went on to reach new heights in her career, managing white people, which was uncommon during her younger years.


They also discussed the remnants of apartheid in South Africa potentially being present today, to which his grandmother completely disagreed. “No, no thank you, “ she said.

The National Party instituted a system of racial segregation in 1948 known as apartheid. Races were evicted from their homes and communities and forced to live elsewhere. “Do you know what its like to dig for potatoes with your hands in the farm and receive no pay?” she recalls the menial labor of apartheid. She also mentioned having to bury and plant over one of the workers if they died in the field.

Watch the rest of the video here and learn more about Trevor Noah’s upbringing.

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Rachel George

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