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‘De Hamse Wuiten’- The Legend

Now I’ll take you on a trip to the very root of my hometown, to the time when it almost sprouted freshly from the ground. 

It was in the riverbanks of the calm river ‘Durme’, in the middle of Flanders, the people of Hamme found their habitat. Most of them where humble farmers, who thrived on the rich soil the shore provided. 

One farmer, in particular, Kamiel, was a friend to everything that was covered in fur and feathers. Even the wildwood creatures, otherwise so shy, came to his call. They ate from his hand and even lay at his feet. The sun shone brightly on the day this marvelous little colored Flemish Jay landed on his shoulder. The two went along so well that this rare bird decided to nest in Kamiel’s house. He even taught him how to talk!

The days gently fled from one into another, following the slow but steady rhythm of Mother Natures tides. Harmonious at heart, that’s how this little village could be described.

Until an alarming sight cast a shadow over our peaceful town. The dragon’s head was spotted first, quickly followed by enormous triangle-shaped sails and eye-blinding shimmers, reflected by horrible horned helmets. 


The villagers ran as fast their clogs could carry them. In a heartbeat, destruction came ashore. That night the sky was darker than ever. Even the stars, otherwise so shining bright, gloomy paled when gazing down. When Kamiel returned, still shaking with fear, the Blood-moon gave sight to what was left of his field. Despite some minor damages, everything looked quite the same.  He sighed with relief. Except, something felt wrong. It was so quiet… Shivers ran over his skin. They took his bird!

Indeed, our feathered friend was captured by the fierce Vikings. They took him to faraway Northern lands. The cold and rough landscapes wrapped themselves around his tiny heart, taking away the appetite to sing. What to be done with a silent bird, the Vikings asked themselves? So they sold him to traveling merchants. Around the wide world sailed their boat, yet still, it wouldn’t free a single note. 

One day, the bird was gazing at the horizon. The water sloshed gently against the deck. Soothing feelings arose. The mysterious curtain of fog lifted slowly and finally, the sun broke through. He saw the contours of a small village looming. The church tower pierced the sky, like a guards spear, protecting everyone it holds dear. A curiously familiar view. 

Suddenly the steersman jumped a hole in the air. The bird started to talk!

“ ‘k Heb Hamme gezien! ‘k Heb Hamme gezien!” He chirped out. Although the sailors didn’t understand a single word of this old Dutch tongue, they felt instantly that the bird was filled with joy. This was his home! 

The crew, luckily blessed with a kind heart, decided to free him at last. 

He quickly flew out of sight. Yet his cheerful song lingered on for quite a while. 

Centuries came and went, but our little village still stands. 

And if you listen closely, there at the riverbanks, a pleasing whisper would caress your ear. Perhaps it’s just your imagination… Or maybe it’s a colorful little echo, carried softly by the winds of time.

Nowadays this legend is still kept alive through a big celebration. Every year we celebrate Carnaval. At the end of the winter season, a procession walks through the streets. A traditional part is the folklore group ‘De Hamse Wuitens’. They made a big Viking ship, the one we have now dated from 1966. In its trail are dancers, all dressed up as Flemish Jays. In our dialect, this bird is called ‘Hamse Wuiten’. Etymology learns that ‘Wuit’ is an old word for ‘chin’ or ‘mouth’. ‘Wuiten’ refers to the calling of a bird. It became a nickname for the inhabitants of Hamme, who clearly wear it with proud.

Text written in August 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Delphine and at the beginning of March I swept the land of the best fries and chocolate in the world for Madeira. So this better be worth it!

Besides my culinary interests I’m always hungry for new experiences.  Currently I’m taking part in the Madeiran Heritage program as a history teller. I like to sink my teeth into good books, have a healthy appetite for outdoor activities (running, hiking, water sports) and am always in for a good laugh and dance. I graduated in Visual Arts as a copywriter and art director, but I keep an open eye towards everything interesting moving this world.

For those who are still wondering about the first sentence: The land I’m talking about is Belgium, obviously :D.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.