Daphne’s article in today’s Independent really does bring some truths home about navel gazing Malta. It is not the first time that I point out that Malta still suffers from the centre-of-the world mentality that was inbuilt into our parents by the Mintoffian generation. In the efforts to build some semblance of a Din l-Art Helwa we might have gone a step too far. Nation building in Malta had the consequence of a dramatic hyperbole suitable for a peplum starring Toto’ versus Maciste (as can be seen in that great peplum called Gensna) but not for the tiny island state that we are.
Daphne rightly points out the sad and sorry difference between the way Malta and Lampedusa respectively cope with the boat people. Suddenly the Mother that gave us her name is powerless to handle the waves of immigrants while the 5,500 persons on the rock of Lampedusa (farther from Italy than Malta) continue to tackle the issue with compassion and understanding that is either absent from our shores or lies silent while being out-shouted by the vociferous rabble. We have fallen victim of another heritage of Father Dom’s era… the nanny state. We forget our Catholic upbringing and instead of pulling up our sleeves and coming up with solutions we find it easier to identify the latest drama, the latest problem and complain that the state is doing nothing about it. The momentum reaches its climax when the State itself starts to whinge and requests aid because this great Maritime Republic never foresaw the dangers that the sea surrounding it could carry.
Until now our poem writers and crafters of epics have been able to rewrite history in a way that the Maltese oppressed always comes out victorious. It is in our peplum that the termination of a contract for an army base becomes a day of Freedom and release as though the valiant Maltese patrol boats pushed away the last remnants of the NATO and British armies. That sad joke of Jum il-Helsien will remain one of the last bastions of Mintoff‘s nation building efforts that fit more with the carnival floats than with monumental efforts of great leaders.Meanwhile (after a short parenthesis of terror until 1987) the army of our liberated isle could now concentrate its efforts on the courageous deeds of dealing with the coloured invader who attacked our shores in the hundreds armed with boats, salt water, hypoglycaemia, diarrhoea and a determination to survive. Can’t you see it? In the not-too distant future… a memorial to the soldiers who kept Malta free on August 2005. Jum ir-Respinta … when we sent them all back from where they came from. Mass, wreath laying ceremony at the foot of the Monument tar-Respinta complete with Brigadier throwing into the sea in the late afternoon.
Sic Transit Gloria Melitae. (Ave)
�The smell is awful. Sour and overpowering, it rises from two wooden boats and two rubber dinghies tied up in a far corner of the picturesque harbour on the Italian island of Lampedusa. In these small craft some 300 people arriving from North Africa in search of new lives in Europe have endured dangerous journeys at sea, crammed together without adequate water, food, shelter or toilets�.The terrible stench gives some idea of the ordeal they must have endured. �When they arrive they are suffering from nausea, vomiting, sunburn, dehydration, hypoglycaemia, diarrhoea,� says Dr Claudia Codesani from the charity Medicins Sans Frontieres. �They have been at sea for 17 hours or for as long as five or six days, and they are desperate to eat and drink. Everyone is shocked and frightened.” (source)