by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
Last month, on February 23, 2020, hundreds of individuals, associations and decorated wagons marched or rolled through the streets of the center of Aalst in what is known as their unique form of celebrating “Carnival,” mainly as a moment of self and free expression where and when king, royalties, clergy, politicians, film stars, VIPs, world events, are objects of satire, fun, criticism, be it with effigies, people dressed up or with placards of panels written in their nearly cryptic local dialect.
Aalst is a small, drab city in the Province of Eastern Flanders. The first time Aalst made world news was on the evening of November 9, 1985 when a mass killing by unknown semi-military killers ( “the Brabant Killers” in French and “de Bende van Nijvel” in Dutch) left eight people dead in the supermarket Delhaize, at the periphery of the city. It is a mass killing still under investigation nowadays by the Belgian Police authorities.