US-based comedian Trevor Noah has highlighted the importance of culture in creative art, connecting people worldwide and defining them in different ways.
In a discussion about his perspective of the notion of culture as a living fluid at the fifth edition of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 which kicked off on Sunday, Noah who is also the Host of ‘The Daily Show’ says one thing people have to accept about the world today is the boundaries and barriers about where one’s culture ends and where one begins as culture exists across boundaries and borders and is defined in different ways.
“It is a living culture that will affect everybody in the world and a melting pot and a stew of ideas for people to identify what their individual culture is, “and a moment of transitional pain, and consciously how we choose to reflect the pains,” he said.
“When you are performing, especially standup comedy, oftentimes idea some people have is you are taking centre-stage. But it is rather me echoing the culture that I am existing within. I think of myself as somebody that people need to listen to.”
He added: “I grew up in a very mixed family and country, so what happened over time is I had to learn how to send the message between people; I never thought of it as being me, but as the culture, I’m reflecting back at people.”
The Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which runs until October 25 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, has brought together leading artists, curators, educators, researchers, and policy makers to share and discuss contemporary issues driving change in the culture and creative industries and the wider culture sector today.
On how he was shaped the way he is, Noah says he always flowed through life and he thinks he owed that to the way his mother raised him.
“She instilled principles in me and how I lived and tried to exist in the world; just this morning, she said to me: In life, try to pursue your passion, and your passion will drive you to your purpose, and within your purpose, you will find peace and that will bring pleasure, and that really describes how I have lived my life,” he said. “I try and listen to the voice inside me that tells me this is what I’m passionate about, we exercise that passion, but if we are not careful, we don’t explore this part.”
In his keynote speech at the summit, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi), said: “The UAE has always been a place of bringing people together. For thousands of years, it has been a bridge between East and West and a place where we have learnt to understand each other and talk to each other, and, most importantly, respect each other.
“I can imagine 100 years ago, Bedouins in the desert under the stars sharing poetry, talking to each other, developing a level of understanding… this is what we are here for today: coming together to find solutions.”
He said culture will always remain an integral part of society, which was clearly witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were devastated to see cultural programmes leave schools… [but then] something very special happened; we all took a step together and said: ‘enough is enough, we need to come together and find solutions,” said Al Mubarak.
Tim Malow, Chief Executive and Director, the Design Museum, said: “We have thousands of people here in the flesh embedded in Abu Dhabi… and I just want to say this shows that culture is dynamic, and a fluid that affects all our lives and brings us together.”
He said culture forms people’s sense of self and belonging, “and the framework of this Culture Summit ‘A Living Culture’ shows that culture ecosystems are fragile, and we need to find a way to make them more resilient over three days.”
UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi, said: “If an issue happens in Brazil or Iraq or Syria, it affects us as well because culture is where have a common and shared humanity, we can protect the diversity of it and make sure that it evolves, bit just by issuing 10 policies a year, but through practical policies.”
“The Culture Summit is an example of a platform that brings together the public, private, government and academic sector to find such practical policies on the ground.”