It’s no secret that we can learn a lot from our elders and this week, Daily Show host Trevor Noah interviewed a very special guest- his grandmother, Koko, who is 91 (and nine months) years old to talk about living the majority of her life under apartheid and share the impact that Nelson Mandella had on her family and community.
Noah, who was in town for the Global Citizen Festival, a festival celebrating the life and legacy of former president Nelson Mandela, filmed the interview as part of his Comedy Central satire program titled Cribs: Oppression Edition, a play on MTV’s famous “Cribs.” The interview took place in Koko’s home in Soweto (a township of Johannesburg),
The spritely (and witty) Koko described Nelson Mandella as “our god on earth), explaining that the leader first started breaking barriers as an attorney- an occupation that was considered to be off-limits to Blacks. (Mandela was born into a tribal royal family, which likely provided him with the rare opportunity to attend law school pre-apartheid.) She noted earlier that the professions that were typical for South African Blacks under apartheid were mostly that of domestic help. In an effort to describe how difficult and anxiety-inducing life was under apartheid, she references the “flying squads,” which is to this day the term that South Africa uses to describe their police force. Koko described how the police used to come and arrest people in the middle of the night with little to no due process. She detailed the cruel labor conditions of the time, explaining: “Digging potatoes with your hands, and if one of the workers dies, they are buried, and potatoes are planted right on top of where they were.” She also discussed how Noah being biracial was an issue when he came to her neighborhood. “You gave me a tough time because you wanted to play on the street,” she recounts. “There were kids who never knew what a white man was.”
And while most of the world is familiar with Trevor Noah as a major television personality, his grandma mentions that due to unreliable electricity, she has not seen the Daily Show. However, Daily Show fans were indeed lucky enough to “meet” Koko and receive the gift of her wisdom.