ha ha. jokes. Political Jokes.
On Wednesday December 13th Flanders, northern region of Belgium abruptly seceded from the country. Poof like that. King Albert and Queen Paola fled suddenly in an airplane. The country was in panic. Immediately following the broadcast of the breaking news item people went nuts. Embassies in Brussels panicked, people flooded the station with calls, and pro-Belgium demonstraters rushed to rally outside the royal palace.
haha. Said the station a half hour later. Just kidding.
Not everybody enjoyed the joke. In fact, few people did. I am one of them. How exciting to be moving to this country that has freshly reopened the wounds of division and the latent but everpresent tension between the two geographic and linguistic regions.
For those who don’t know, and people who have never been to Belgium, or know no Belgians probably don’t, let me break it down.
Belgium for many long and complicated reasons is actually two disparate peoples stitched together. The Flemish, in the North, speak Flemish, which is basically Dutch. They were a peasant people and their Flemish language was a peasant language. Now though, they’re an economic force. Walloonia’s fortunes are the reverse.
Wallonia’s inhabitants (Walloons) speak French. The French language was the language of the bourgeousie and they used to be a really economic powerhouse. Back in the days of coal. Now the coal mines are all dried up and its economically depressed. And the people are emotionally depressed. Flanders keeps them afloat basically, and that’s why there’s some arguments (usually from far right extremists like the Flemish Interest Party) for independence.
At the centre of it all is Brussels, whose people are neither Walloons or Flemish, but people simply ‘from Brussels.’ They too speak French. Basically it’s a mess. But somehow it works, barely. And since substantial power was devolved to the regions back in the 80’s, everything’s been trundling along A-OK… and now this!!!
Actually, it’s not so bad, but it was embarrassing. Embarrassing for those who fell for it, and those who are now forced to confront the regionalist and separatist feelings anew.
And exciting for those of us who are moving there in a couple weeks.