Manifesto for Walloon Culture (1983)


We, subscribers to this text, women and men, authors, musicians, movies Directors, singers, painters, writers, animators, scientists, journalists, historians, we want to affirm our true identity: We are and we feel Walloon. 

Wallonia is opposed, through a harsh economic crisis, to all those who deny her reality and her prospects of future. With all Walloon citizens, we have to face these threats by affirming in the same movement our unity and our autonomy. Unity, autonomy, one doesn’t work without the other when we talk of a region which has been fragmented and sometimes divided by history and lack of independence. From Tournai to Verviers, from Arlon to Wavre, it is one same territory, which gives shape and profile to the entity it forms. Wallonia expects therefore to exist on the maps of states as a specific area. 

We exist, we want to recover what belongs to us, and we want to live together in conditions fitting our needs. Those who, here, call upon the Walloon people know that our present struggles are first of all economic. The example of the steel industry is unmistakable. 

We want to be on the side of those who lead this fight. WE BELIEVE HOWEVER THAT THE ACCESSION OF WALLONIA TO ITS collective identity and political maturity REQUEST A CULTURAL PROJECT ALONG WITH THE EXISTING ECONOMICAL PROJECT. 

As creators, we identify ourselves with a positive image of Wallonia and its people. We intend to represent, reflect and develop this image. Wallonia has a long past history shaped with artworks and products and also with fights and acts of resistance. Without forgetting this patrimony which is the base of our identity, we want today to build a modern Wallonia, in touch with History, with more self-awareness, with her landscapes, her specificities and her symbols. 

We, Walloons, work on artworks and analysis where our region is naturally described and expressed. Artists, intellectuals, we have chosen to be here and to stay here. Wallonia must have its own production centers for movies, theatres, with companies and scenes, a literature with her press and editors; we wish structures for our music and songs, paintings and architecture, sculptures and comics…; we want our cultural enterprises spread over the territory to be truly recognized and supported. 

We are tired of a spirit which makes Walloons feeling guilty and paralyzed. There is a common belief that Walloon people have a tendency to keep a shy and skeptical timidity which luckily preserve them from racism and from racism and narrow-minded nationalism. Our project is not racist, nor narrowly nationalist. We only refuse the economical, political and cultural constraints that may cause our decline. Every nation is proud of her work and wants them to be recognized as such, in contrast with the standardized products of multinational companies and the global cultural kitsch. 

Our schools have a mission to establish contacts between the youth and the Walloon culture. People of amnesiacs, we have neglected our history. Passive people, we let our culture be washed away. This is true for art and also for technological invention and scientific research. To a new rising generation, we must give opportunities to take, to learn and to act. 

On these aspects, we don’t think that the Government of the French speaking Community of Belgium reflects our true identity; this Community is, in our opinion, an artificial hybrid entity from nowhere.The French community government from Belgium worsens the dependency of Wallonia on external cultural centers and reduces the Walloon country to a provincial cultural satellite of the French culture. 

This is also common sense: A political body doesn’t choose its capital city out of its territory. And the decisions about cultural policies are taken in Brussels and the financial resources for theater, cinema and literature are concentrated in the capital city. We have as capital a city which is not Walloon and doesn’t want to be part of Wallonia. 

We are however aware of the specific problems that Brussels people have to face within Belgium today. We ask for Brussels a status which allows this city to be managed in autonomy, like it is the case for Flanders and for Wallonia. We want an alliance with BRUSSELS BUT IN A NEW INSTITUTIONAL LANDSCAPE WHICH RESPECT THE COHERENCE BETWEEN THE POLITICAL EXISTENCE OF WALLONIA, HER ECONOMICAL PROSPECTS AND HER CULTURAL PRODUCTION. 

For an autonomous Wallonia, an autonomous culture is needed. We want to exist within our culture but in symbiosis with the social, political and economical future. We need the resources to create this autonomy. 

First we want a power able to define and apply policies. Next, we need respectable financial resources (unlike the ridiculous amounts allowed today to the Regional Walloon Executive Branch). Finally we need an infrastructure of organizations reflecting the territory and its diversity. 

The Walloon culture is a minority one, but alive, tolerant and pluralist. We are aware of our local peculiarities but we live the historical moment where our diversities must shape our strengths together. All those who live and work in the Walloon region are undeniably part of Wallonia. All beliefs ant thoughts which are respectful of humans, without any reserve, are at home in Wallonia. 

As an human community, Wallonia wants to emerge in taking up its own destiny which is also opening herself to the world.