Koert Debeuf: "A city's identity is based on the future"
published on 20/10/2015
In response to the text 'Borderless identities in an urban world', Koert Debeuf describes cities as places for opportunities.
Contrary to countries, cities are not about flags or national hymns. Cities also have no clear-cut borders. They grow, vertically and geographically. They swallow villages and transform its people from villagers to citizens. The identity of countries is mostly based on the past, the history. A city’s identity is based on the future, the unknown. In a city there is always new territory to discover, new people to meet, new ideas to discuss and new backgrounds to take into account. New concepts grow from a battle of ideas, from the clash of unexpected perspectives. These ideas might come from the neighbour at the bar who happens to be from Senegal or Chile and whom you just met. In cities there is no national language, but the one you happen to share with the person sitting next to you. That’s why cities are places of freedom, discovery, innovation. It doesn’t matter where you come from, but what you share. It’s not about your background, but your contribution. In cities people are not a burden, but an opportunity to learn, to move forward and transform the place into something ever more interesting. That’s why cities are my home, wherever they are.
Koert Debeuf is a Cairo-based historian and political analyst. He is a former advisor to the Belgian Prime Minister and writes for Politico and Foreign Policy.
Top image: Flickr/Thomas Hawk