We have every reason to be proud of our country and our people. It is a mystery how this country of a population of around 420,000 living on an island of 316 square kilometers has maintained over centuries its identity and its statehood. A nation in the centre of the Mediterranean subject to the tensions of different cultures and civilizations has been resilient to different forces and retained its identity, its language, its literature (first published evidence of Maltese poetry dates back to the fourteen hundred), its culture… a country with a University that finds its origin in the 1590s, its typical architecture, its seat around the table of European nations, its rivalries and tendency towards polarisation in whatever is said and done…
A number of Maltese distinguished themselves abroad in various fields… even in contemporary history persons like Richard England in architecture, Edward de Bono in philosophy of communication, the late Peter Serracino Inglott in philosophy, the late Emvin Cremona in stamp design, Alfred Pisani in the hospitality industry, the late Charles Camilleri in music, John Schranz in theatre and performance, Joseph Calleja as world renowned tenor. Others of Maltese ancestry who made a name abroad including Frank Zarb, former Energy Secretary during the Nixon administration and former Chairman of Nasdaq, in the USA, Marcus Agius former Chairman of Barclays Bank plc, Paul Manduca, chairman of Prudential Group plc, Lord Judge, Chief Justice of the United Kingdom and the list can go on.
This emphasis on all that is Maltese cannot in any way distract us from our global destiny, and the fact that we form part of a world which is becoming more open and competitive. We need to understand our strengths and weaknesses better and aim at sharpening our identity and edge over competing countries. We can only do this by keeping our doors wide open to foreign investment as well as encourage Maltese talent and initiative. There is no scope for protectionism, insularity and nostalgia for the Mintoff era which put Malta on the map for the wrong reasons and we are now after thirty years from his stepping down from Prime Minister still suffering the consequences of those lost years.
Every effort can be made to promote Malta, its products and services without becoming chauvinistic or servile. It is important to be proud of our nation without being disproportionate in our claims or demands. Instilling pride in our people in the value of being Maltese can only be made if we continue investing in education, reforming our media policy, promoting awareness of the right Maltese role models – i.e. Maltese who have had successful careers in Malta and abroad, and by encouraging an entrepreneurial, solidarity and collaboration spirit in our schools, University, places of work and society at large. We have to shake off our dependency syndrome and insularity and empower ourselves to look outside our shores.
Joseph FX Zahra