Second Manifest [2003]

Toudi mensuel n°59-60, septembre-octobre 2003

To the Walloon people and their representatives at the Walloon parliament:


Twenty years ago, on September 15, 1983, amidst an economic and social crisis in which Wallonia almost sunk in despair; eighty Walloon citizens signed a Manifest for the Walloon culture to claim the recognition of Wallonia as a moral personality. In addition, they claimed that "Are of Wallonia without reserve all who live and work in the Walloon territory".

Today, subscribers of this manifest, joined by other Walloon women and men, launch a second solemn appeal to their representatives at the Walloon parliament.

Some History

Seventy five years ago, the author Elie Baussart wrote « Flanders and Wallonia are not made for Belgium; it's Belgium which is created to serve Flanders and Wallonia ». From this deeply democratic principle has surged the Belgian state reform, which has created the institutions of the Flemish Community and the Walloon Region. Besides these two entities there are also a Brussels Region and a German-speaking Community. And this is also in conformity with the popular will.

One generation later, Wallonia has been so much reinforced that she is considered as one of the most autonomous European regions, the closest from the very definition of a sovereign state.

However, for the Walloons (without including here the German-speaking community) and also for the French-speaking Brussels citizens, there is a third entity in charge of education, some social affairs, public Medias and culture: It is the Government of the French Community.

For twenty years we have had time to measure how much recognition and visibility for Wallonia has been lost because of this French Community government. Moneyless, having to ask for financial help from Wallonia, and having lost some of its powers, this government continues to rule for the sake of a so-called solidarity between Brussels and Wallonia. But this solidarity can exist without this institutionalized form.

Wallonia is sick of paying for being denied

The Walloon government wants to improve Wallonia through a program called Contract for the future. This program, to be efficient, should be involving the educational system, in other words the Youth, from maternal school to University. Many teachers believe that the teaching system has to be taken in charge by the region, in order to better integrate education and professional training. But the public school system is not managed by the Walloon government and the Walloon political power has to be associated to the French Community political power.

This association is a mere nuisance: The Community doesn't occupy the same territory as Wallonia, which is itself denied in the educational contents. Ignored also in the free choice of foreign languages to study that the Walloons should master, and ignored in her regional languages, even as their disappearance would be a loss in our cultural heritage.

So Wallonia pays for a French- speaking school system which fails to promote her as a specific culture, and this need to be changed.

While most experts agree on the necessity, for Wallonia, to strengthen her image, the French Community government has launched a « Plan Magellan » which purpose is to relocate almost all the activities of the public television and radio in Brussels. This plan is criticized by the RTBF Walloon employees, who point out that to mention « Wallonia »or Walloon »is disapproved in the public TV system.

So Wallonia is providing money, to be denied. We want this to stop.

There are international gatherings associating about 50 French-speaking countries. After France and Québec, The Walloons are the third biggest providers of funding for the "Francophonie". But our representatives at these summits speak only in the name of the Belgian State or the French Community government. So Wallonia pays for international francophone summits, without ever its name mentioned, and we want this to change.

In various areas, most notably in movie production, a real development of Walloon cultural creation can be observed. But since the culture is still the area of the French Community government, the political and symbolic powers associated to culture behave as if Wallonia was dissociated from them.

So Wallonia pays a price, materially and morally, because the cultural achievements produced on her soil are not attributed to her, and this has to change.

In social areas were the government of the French Community is still in charge, financial shortages create problems for the daily family life, in Brussels as well as in Wallonia, such as a blatant deficit in child care centers.

So Wallonia pays a price, financially and morally, because Walloons and more specifically women are suffering the poor results of the mismanagement of social resources by the French community, and this has to change.

Finally, there is sport where various international competitors from Wallonia are almost never mentioned by public Medias as Walloons but only in reference to their native cities or villages.

So Wallonia pays a price, financially and morally, to develop a sport where successful competitors are not presented as Walloons and this has to change.

Wallonia wants and can obtain the management of her education and culture

The cultural inexistence of Wallonia has a heavy cost.

Because defenders of the old Unitarian Belgium, under cover of the « French Community », continue to want to maintain a Belgium without Flanders. Also because many Brussels citizens believe that the French Community government keeps the unity between them and Wallonia. This relation blocks Wallonia as a subordinated area to the City of Brussels, perceived as the capital of a Unitarian state which no longer exist. There is no need of a "French community government" to maintain this solidarity. We are always stunned to see how much members of the Brussels government are in charge of the arts, literature and audio-visual arts and Walloon members are never selected: A new proof of the will to suffocate any cultural awakening of Wallonia.

We also reject the intention of some politicians to place together the Federal elections and the Walloon elections.

The subscribers to this Manifest have the belief of speaking for the Walloon people. They consider urgent that Wallonia obtain the management of her culture, her public school system and her Public media.

Today, in contrast to the situation twenty years ago, Wallonia has the political and legal tools to manage all the powers and competencies of the French Community government. The subscribers to this Manifest call upon the representatives of Wallonia

An expectation which can be easily satisfied:

There is no openness to the world without proper identity. The European Union treasures Unity and Diversity, the "Francophonie" promotes equality and differentiation. Wallonia, products of much immigration, wants also the diversity, equality and fraternity.

We expect from our representatives that they give the possibility of recognizing its culture in the real meaning of the word, not limited only to « Cultural affairs » nut cover the whole public life. It's only a small piece of text, a decree, entrusting the Walloon people with the competencies of culture, public school, scientific research and public media which we are still deprived. Of course, this measure would not be the ultimate criteria of this public Walloon citizenry, but it would be a necessary step towards it.

So let's hope that those that we have elected give to Wallonia this chance to resist to the movements which tend to divide nations, people, cultures, religions, philosophies and human beings.