Unveiling speech L'Âge d'Or

by Mayor Aboutaleb 22.06.2021
photo Aad Hoogendoorn

Opening L'Âge d'Or at the head of the Wilhelminapier - June 20, 2021

The renowned Rotterdam sculpture collection has added a masterpiece: L'Âge d'Or by artist Gavin Turk. On permanent loan from the Land Mover Museum, which is being built across the street. A wonderful gesture.

A beautiful location too, here on the Wilhelminapier. The place from which so many people went into adventure, uncertainty, in search of a better life. Emigrants.

It is no coincidence that the unveiling of L'Âge d'Or place on World Refugee Day. Emigrants were essentially refugees too. They closed the door of poverty, hunger and violence behind them. They crossed the threshold to a good future. For themselves, but especially for their children.

At the time, they were waved off on the quay by family and friends. The iconic black and white photos are part of our collective memory. In the New World, the doors opened wide for them.

Today's refugees leave their friends and family behind in appalling conditions. A bitter goodbye. And the door to the future is ajar. Or is closed.

They are often called fortune seekers. Apparently, even the quest for happiness is not for everyone. It has become a swear word, while everybody strives for happiness in his life. This city was even built by fortune seekers from all parts of the world.

When you fearlessly open the door, your house becomes bigger, not smaller. Get space for your deepest motivations.

Kahlil Gibran, a philosopher and artist who lived from 1883 to 1931, wrote in The Prophet, his masterpiece. In it he connects two worlds: the mysterious stories of his childhood in Lebanon and of the Western Enlightenment that he embraced as an immigrant in America.

The Prophet in the book returns to his native country after twelve years of exile. But before he leaves, he is asked to share his wisdom with those left behind. He does this in 28 poetic essays.

I will read you a passage passage Houses:


Your ancestors have you too close in their fear

caught and that fear will last for a while.

For a while your city walls will separate your hearth from you


And tell me, what do you have in those houses? What to monitor

you there with locked doors?

Do you have peace, the silent urge that reveals your power?

Do you have memories, the glittering arches that the

peaks of the mind?

Do you have beauty that has the heart of wood and stone

objects to the sacred mountain?

Tell me, do you have that in your homes?

Or do you only have comfort and the desire for comfort,

that sneaky thing that enters your house as a guest, then

becomes host and then master?

Yes, and he becomes a tamer, the one with hooks and whips

makes puppets of your higher desires.

_ His hands are silky smooth, but his heart is of iron. –

He puts you to sleep and then stands by your bed and laughs at you

the dignity of the flesh.

He mocks your wise senses and lays them in thistle fluff like

fragile pots.

Yes, the desire for comfort kills the passion of the soul and runs

grinning along in the funeral procession.

But you, children of space, restless at rest, you

will not be captured or tamed.

Your house will not be an anchor, but a mast.

It will not be a glittering film that covers a wound,

but an eyelid that guards the eye.

You won't let your wings hang to pass through doors

can and not bend your head so as not to bump it with a

ceiling, and you won't be afraid to breathe just in case

the walls will crack and collapse.

You shall not live in tombs that put the dead for the

made living.

And no matter how rich and beautiful your house is, it won't be your secret

keep and do not shelter your desire.

For the infinite in you dwells in the high house of the

sky. The door is the morning mist and the windows are the song and

the silence of the night.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's open this door.

The door to our home, to our heart.

To our future.

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