MALTA - THE BRITISH HIDEOUT. |
The legendary islands of St. Paul.
Rarely does anything get talked about in the Mediterranean without a mention of the old jewel of the British Crown - the fascinatingly mysterious group of Islands we call Malta and the irascible Maltese. Whilst colonialism never sat very comfortably on the shoulders of the Maltese people throughout its turbulent history, the people without doubt think affectionately of the British days and in particular express its regard for the Crown that once met their gaze with equal satisfaction. Despite much of the scurrilous attacks on British Imperialism, like the Romans, the British occupiers of most of the Commonwealth left a legacy of law, communication and security which unfortunately with subsequent retrograde political changes have in some places, been irretrievably eroded.
Like ancient Rome did in its day, the British left behind strengthened institutional structures which, as always, served the purpose of the rapidly evolving people left behind. In India, the English language turned a classical Babel into a cohesive mold that paved the way without doubt to Ghandi himself (now affectionately honoured in Westminster Square) and a future, the brilliance of which, is yet to be seen. Much of this has to do with the subsequent acceptance of very large numbers of Indian nationals (original India - now divided into three separate countries) into the United Kingdom over a long period of time and who now form an important and structural communication system with the mother country. As a result, it even goes about that Queen Elizabeth 11 is still their Queen - as she still is of the lucky Commonwealth.
In Malta the language incredibly blended with the base Phoenician, together with Italian among other sources, has created the sing song phraseology so musical and exclusive to the Maltese. English, spoken by all the inhabitants, has turned into the anchor which the Islanders needed to expand and reach their international goals. The Maltese archipelago is a member of the European Union and its future stability is not only secured, but set to be a major base for all North African and Middle Eastern enterprise of the future. The politicians of the islands in the main come from good solid backgrounds and appear to know what they want for the people even in perhaps the true significance of the geographic setting is still to sink in. Falcon is the word and good eyesight is its attribute. Maltese ancient history is reflected in its language with a broad base of Phoenician words common to the Arab world lending to its original interests in places like Tunisia and Algeria. The Romanized phonetics catch the curious Middle Easterners by surprise since the Arab sense only becomes apparent when the words are pronounced . Many words, phrases and idioms are identical to both peoples and some, a version of. Most Arabs feel at home in a country that reflects its ancient culture despite the strong Catholicism of the place. The Grand Harbour of Valletta, the capital in the Island of Malta , is probably one of the most imposing entries into any country. The Templars were there briefly but chose to make Cyprus their home instead, to the chagrin of Richard the Lionheart who lost his crown for his Templar exploits and zest for adventure. Richard because of his Royal heritage was unable to reach for the leadership of the Order, but still became a predominant figure in its history. The islands, apart from the enormous medieaval architectural legacy, also boasts mysterious prehistoric settlements that defy explanation but which point as most of them to Celtic druidic origins on the once great religion that was born in Egypt long before the great days of the legendary Pharoahs. It is also the island where the arm of the Disciple of the converted Paul, the undisputed pillar of Roman Catholicism who was shipwrecked there, is kept in all its glory and escorted by military cohorts over land and sea when displayed abroad.
Successful inopportune invasion
But that is not all. Malta resisted invasion throughout its history, although its sovereignty was assumed by the Knights Hospitallers who turned it from the 12th. to the 19th. into their international sovereign State. The knights having turned away from their Jerusalem base in retreat, subsequently became The Knights of Malta. Napoleon put an end to that at the start of the 19th.century but having lost it to the British in 1815, it remained under British rule for well over a century. Since the Islands´ independance from Britain after the second world war, the people of Malta have run themselves with the blood and fervor of a variety of ethnic friendly settlers in their veins, not to mention British during the occupation. The Ottoman conquerors gave up on their quest for these strategic group of islands, although they established bases in most of the North African shores alongside the Corsair state of Algeria.
The Knights of Malta whose relics still impress the world with its majestic architectural examples in Valletta - the capital - and in the harbour especially, left for The Vatican, where the Grand Master now has his sovereign base. Well anchored in Roman Catholicism, this incredible institution which taught the world the Oriental art of the care of the ill and wounded, continues with its elite high powered membership of the most influential nobles of the world to serve modern and peace associated purposes.
The British retired in the main and seeking their Florida, have looked towards Malta as the ultimate in consideration with security and affection as a main objective. In former days of colonial Britain many of these senior citizens were of a highly cultured background and often made substantial contributions locally in the cultural and social scene. The British, lovers of fancy dress, fetes and garden parties were often engaged in charitable causes which were well attended by most of the locals of the diverse colonial outposts. Lamentably, with the retreat of the reluctant British veneer in times of transition, many of the colourful and immensely sociable events disappeared from the local calendars. Today, with residential tourism on the increase and the current reappraisal of habitual places that no longer offer any of the criteria necessary for choice, Malta becomes a star of great attraction. History, social activity, English language and warmth which surrounds these shores most of the year, make it a choice for the future - for the elegant and educated. For these, little is left of what once was a vast panorama of great natural beauty and food for the soul of a people who sought adventure and colour to spike the days of waning life.
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