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Watch Trevor Noah's Take Down of the French Ambassador's Letter That Said the World Cup Was Not an ‘African Victory’

The French ambassador tried to teach the late night host about the politics of inclusion. Noah hilariously exposes the hypocrisy.

It's not everyday that a European ambassador writes an angry letter in response to a late-night joke but these are strange and exceptional times.

When Trevor Noah congratulated the African team for winning the world cup on July 16 he got a stream of criticism back from French people, offended that French people of African descent are being called anything other than French. This included an official letter from the French ambassador to the United States. Noah's response: share the letter with the world, deconstruct the politics line by line, reflect on colonialism, and laugh at the temporary love for diversity that possesses politicians when they want to profit from people of color.


In part of the daily show's "Between the scenes" segment, Noah read the letter from the French ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud, who claimed that "nothing could be less true" than Trevor Noah's joke that the World Cup was an African Victory.

"Now first of all, I think I could have said they were Scandinavian. That would have been less true," he joked.


He went on to read Araud's definition of what it means to be French which included some obvious points like the fact that the players have citizenship, that most of them were born in the country, that they learned to play soccer in France and are that they are "proud of their country." The ambassador made sure he added France after every point so that there was no more confusion.

"The richness and various backgrounds of these players is a reflection of France's diversity," the ambassador concluded his remarks about French identity.

"Now I'm not trying to be an asshole but it is a reflection of France's colonialism," Noah clarified so that there wouldn't be any confusion about which France was being talked about.

Beyond the jokes, Trevor Noah and Araud attempted to tackle the racial politics that have haunted discussions around the World cup victory. Araud argued that talking about the Africanness of the French players "even in jest" legitimized the ideology of "whiteness as the only definition of being French." Using the United States as a scapegoat, he mentioned that France does not believe in hyphenated identities.

Noah pointed out what should be obvious, that there can be a multiplicity in identities. He also highlighted that perhaps this was not just a question of whether one can be African and French but the individual's intention in these discussions.

"When I say they are African. I'm not saying it to exclude them from their Frenchness. I am trying to include them in my Africanness. I am saying I see you my French brother of African descent," he concluded.

Watch the whole segment below:

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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