Antwerp, Midden-Brabant and the new world of Kanokipa?

Imagine you play an MMORPG. Imagine your character reached level 99, which means you’ve been playing for many years, and you’ve invested quite a bit of money. Imagine the developers want to change the name of your favorite world, or even your province… What would you do?

It’s your world too

You’ve been paying for upgrades, sequels, prequels, patches and more. Hell, even changing a character name costs you money! Sometimes you’ll pay up to $15 to change one. Imagine they’d change the name of the world though. It would become less your own. All forum entries about it would be obsolete. Even that blog post you wrote about it once would be referring to some fantasy word you just made up for fun! Complete madness!

Imagine the government would want to change the name of the province you grew up in…

Well, in Belgium, it is a fact that many people are confused about why the Flemish (northern) province of Antwerp has nothing to do with the city of the same name. Still, I think it’s way too costly to even consider renaming it. Especially while the government’s policy is otherwise based on a cuts frenzy. Imagine having to change everything from local opinion to international interest. It’d take years.

Then there’s the historical arguments. The area was part of the Duchy of Brabant during the middle ages, that much is true, and cool. But we live in 2014 and we have a constitution nowadays, which says that this area is called Antwerp. Besides, Belgium has also been a part of France in the meantime, which renders any pre-French Revolution charters obsolete because of discontinuity.
(For Dutch speaking visitors: the opinion of a historian)

So, while I understand they’d want to change Antwerp in the light of contemporary clarity, I am just angry our tax money would be just used for a lousy name change. The term “Midden-Brabant” doesn’t even make sense! Now let’s enjoy the Gif.

A GIF showing alternatives to some well-known fantasy worlds. Azeroth-Kinokipa, Arda-Twolungia, Hyrule-Vietlantis, Mushroom Kingdom-Cortinarius rubellus Kingdom, Antwerp-Midden-Brabant

Azeroth, Arda, Hyrule, Mushroom Kingdom, Antwerp… They’re here to stay.

Would you pay a developer $15 to change the name of your favorite game world?

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The Game of Thrones in Belgian Politics

It’s been way too long, but this time, there’s an election buzz going about in my little country Belgium, and it looks like a Game of Thrones! So let’s compare, shall we?

Oh, and don’t be too offended by what you see, this is totally my point of view entirely and completely. It’s a rough comparison of the Houses of Game of Thrones and political parties in Flanders, the Flemish speaking “North” of Belgium. I tried to remain objective and if you guys have any thoughts, or there’s someone who would like to do the same exercise for Wallonia, be my guest but let me know!

Have fun!

Infographic of my comparative study of Game of Thrones and Belgian Politics.

Just my view on Game of Thrones politics!

St. Nicholas, who welcomes you tonight?

I’ve changed my mind and so should you. Anything remotely racist or discriminating is taboo in my vocabulary. Still I thought it was time to have a look at the current discussion whether the tradition of St. Nicholas is as racist as people nowadays claim.

Is the saint, the way he’s celebrated in Belgium and The Netherlands, a racist bastard who uses black slaves to get his dirty work done?

St. Nicholas nowadays

St. Nicholas as seen in The Netherlands and Belgium.

Admittedly, St. Nicholas may look like a slavedriver with his black helpers, called “Zwarte Piet” or “Black Pete”. But, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Many different traditions and derivatives are celebrated around the world, which supports the fact that there can be little evidence for conspiracy theories. Nothing is certain, unless proven otherwise. A few thoughts that occurred to me after reading about the origin of the festival and the lore about the the saint himself:

St. Nicholas lived between 300 and 400 AD in Myra, an ancient city located in what is now known as Turkey. Though slavery was common during that period, the kind of black slavery propaganda we accuse the tradition of, simply didn’t exist. What did though, were the many pagan beliefs that were still standing ground. Many of those were added to the tradition of St. Nicholas, even up to the 11th century. In that line of thin

king, Black Petes might actually have been black demons, sentenced by the saint to help him make children happy as a punishment for their earlier misdemeanors.

Black Pete is actually never of African descent in the contemporary tradition. It has been depicted this way in the past, but this happened more likely in times when Imperialist leaders in mostly the 19th century had to defend African slavery towards the public. Black Pete is a white male or female (mostly looking more male than actually female) whose face is painted black. According to the more contemporary beliefs, Black Pete used to enter the house of the lucky child through a chimney, which made them get covered in soot. (Soot is black, it sticks to the skin, I’m just saying.)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

Saint Nicholas of Myra.

So why is there so much commotion about this racism claim? There’s no accurate answer to the who, where, when questions. Origins of traditions might be overshadowed by contemporary festivities. If we denounce racism and discrimination, we can make sure there’s no reason to terminate this ancient tradition. But these days, some people howl about anything they don’t know about or they’ll interpret anything without knowing the full story. There’s information to be found for anyone who likes to form an opinion of their own.

St. Nicholas is an ancient tradition in many parts of the world, and if you look at any tradition with a gloomy mindset, they’ll all become grim and offensive to at least someone. Don’t believe some people on their word, but do the research yourself! What you want to know is out there.

P.S. Would Elf helpers be a solution to the whole discussion? What’s your solution?