The National Identikit
J.G. Vassallo takes a historical look at Malta's national identity and asks a number of pertinent questions:
The Maltese State is 41 years young, but the Maltese nation has roots that are lost in the mists of earliest times. Who were the first inhabitants of the Maltese Islands and where did they come from? Was Malta first colonised by the temple-builders who put up the megalithic temples even before the Pyramids were built? Were there others before them? We know nothing about those people as persons, although we know a little about how they lived.
We know that Malta was invaded, occupied, pillaged by successive waves of different nationalities. Our heritage from different periods is sometimes scanty. Sometimes it is rich, particularly when the heritage, sadly neglected, is in stone. But was there a Maltese Boadicea or a Spartacus who stood up against the early invaders that ruled over our people? Or was there, at least, a Maltese Homer who sailed to horizons unknown? We have no clue..
What we know is that the Maltese are a nation unto themselves with their own language, traditions, and physical and other characteristics. The evidence suggests that the art of building in the far-off Stone Age reached a degree of skill and refinement unsurpassed in other megalithic and Neolithic locations. During the Roman period, Malta had the status of a “municipium” and we have it from Cicero that Malta was flowing with honey if not with milk..
What meaning do we give to our national identity today? What is the moral force that animates us today? Now that the doors of permissiveness have been thrown open, when the apostles of pluralism are claiming unlimited rights, when political polarization seems to have grown deep roots in Malta’s political and social milieu, is Malta held together by the cement of a long-established national unity, or is the cement disintegrating so that Malta will not be the same again? And will that be for the better or for worse? Is the Maltese nation the same united family it used to be or has it adopted a new set of values?...