Thousands of fans showed up to hear Trevor Noah's talk at SIBF 2021 on Friday at Expo Centre Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: World-famous South African comedian and TV host Trevor Noah revealed that his mother is the reason behind his success during his talk at a full house at Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) on Friday.

Around 3,000 fans from the UAE listened on as the 37-year-old described his often-difficult childhood and his mother’s devotion, during the talk at the SIBF ballroom at Expo Centre Sharjah.

The session was moderated by UAE-based radio host Kris Fade, who asked Noah whether he could have predicted his journey of success – one that Noah recounts in his book, New Memoir.

“In life there are two factors that will determine where you end up: One is how hard you work, and the other is your luck”, Noah, host of Daily Show, replied.

Noah’s mother was integral to his book-writing journey who helped him fact check and remember things when the author was unsure.

The giant ballroom at SIBF 2021 was packed during the talk by Noah Image Credit: Supplied

‘I’m lucky to be my mother’s son’

Trevor described his book as a “tribute to his mother”, saying: “I’m lucky to be my mother’s son. I didn’t get to choose who she would be, I didn’t ‘work hard’ to get my mother”, he said.

“And yet, she is the reason I got everything I did in life. She was the person who worked the hardest to get me here; she was the person who made me love books in the first place.”

Talking about how he did not always get the toys or clothes he wanted as a child because his mum could not afford them, Noah said: “She always made sure that we had books.”

Reading all those books that his mother brought home from book clubs or garage sales, as buying them was not always possible, would take Noah “to a different world”.

Chris Gardner at SIBF

Friday night also welcomed another celebrity and motivational speaker at SIBF – American true-life rags-to-riches story Chris Gardener, whose memoir The Pursuit of Happyness was turned into a movie of the same name, starring Hollywood star Will Smith.

“It is okay to fail but not okay to quit,” Gardner, 67, told a packed audience SIBF.

Chris Gardner at SIBF 2021 on Friday at Expo Centre Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

New book

Discussing his new book, Permission to Dream, with Sally Mousa, the international bestselling author, entrepreneur and award-winning film producer, said: “Failure can be your best friend. You are going to learn things from failure that you cannot from success. The key lies in not making the same mistake twice.”

Sharing lessons of perseverance from his journey as a homeless and penniless parent to his meteoric rise as a successful entrepreneur and investor on Wall Street, the philanthropist revealed: “I am trying to change the trajectory of children’s lives and create the next Chris Gardner – some of them will be girls.”

Inspired by a trip with granddaughter

In Permission to Dream, the motivational speaker delivers the secrets to success and provides the tools to turn dreams into action. The book, inspired by a trip with his then nine-year-old granddaughter, urges readers to achieve their ultimate dreams and become “world-class” at it.

Asking hard questions

The author also recalled how, as he washed his 14-month-old son in a train station restroom years ago, he was forced to ask himself some hard questions: ‘Why did this happen to me? How did I get here?’

He said: “My answer – I drove here – hit me hard but was liberating too. I realised that ‘If I drove here, I can drive out of here too’. You can’t change something unless you own it.”

Year-long events

On Saturday, the last day of the 11-day SIBF, Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with the Emirates Writers Union (EWU) to organise literary events and launch cultural initiatives over the course of one year to enrich the knowledge of the Emirati community through poetry recital evenings, literary and cultural seminars, and forums.

The partnership, that came into effect during SIBF 2021, aligns with the UAE’s ‘Year of the 50th’ celebrations to mark the nation’s journey over the last 50 years and begin preparing for the next 50.

‘Far-sighted vision’

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman, SBA, said: “Following on the far-sighted vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, SBA continues to collaborate with various institutions and authorities to support the country’s cultural journey.”

He added: “We laud the leading efforts of EWU in launching initiatives to strengthen the cultural movement in the UAE, which has been shaped and transformed over the past 50 years to become an integral element of the country’s identity.”

‘Unveiling of exceptional events’

Sultan Al Amimi

Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Board of Directors, EWU, said: “This partnership will streamline our joint efforts over the course of one year and will lead to the unveiling of exceptional events and initiatives that will further enrich the already vibrant literary and cultural scene.”

He added: “SBA has demonstrated its leadership in steering the UAE’s cultural movement to promote the power of the written word. This is evident in its various initiatives including [SIBF] and numerous other projects, all of which complement our vision to strengthen and advance the nation’s cultural progress.”