Belgium A to Z – L and M

L – Lekker gezellig

Lekker means tasty or delicious. But the dutch-speaking use it for everything. Actually, it’s like the Brazillian say “gostoso”. Everything, from a sandwich to an experience or someone’s behind, can be lekker.

Translating “gezelligheid” into English is like translating “saudade”: can’t be done. Although we all feel these two things, there’s not an English word to name them. A house can be gezellig in the sense that it’s cozy, but also that weekend away with your loved ones or the tranquil joy of sharing a true friendship can be gezellig. Gezelligheid is a happy comfort, an emotional coziness. Wikipedia defines it as a general togetherness.

“Lekker gezellig” is one of my favourite Dutch expressions. If you ask me, it’s one of the best opinions one can have about something.

M – Monarchy

Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. There’s a constitution, a King and an elected government. Actually, six governments. I think… I can’t be sure anymore.

Albert II is the King and some say he’s the glue that binds this country together. The King represents unity. Apparently, this aura of stability and mediation makes him very popular. Albert II is only the 6th Belgian king. (Yes, Belgium is still a child as a nation. It may seem an adolescent but you know children nowadays…must be something in the hamburgers.)

I bet there’s a lot to tell about the previous five kings, but I’ll take the gory one: Leopold II. He founded a colony in Africa and turned it into a natural resource mine. Wait… this sounds familiar…

“In the rubber coils”

Anyway, Congo’s case was specially brutal because Leopold II got an entire country to work for his own personal benefit and enforced labour upon the Congolese population with particular violence. It has been estimated that his ruling killed twice more people in Congo than the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. But because it was in Africa the outrage lasted less.

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