Fifteen Years of Maltese Culture
Fifteen years ago when the Maltese Culture Movement was launched as a new Maltese association, we were very excited and had high hopes for the prospects of the organisation. Little did we anticipate the overwhelming response that would follow. It was Easter Sunday the 12th April 1998. The venue was the Packington Hall in Islington. We had prepared about one hundred figolli to give to all who attended. Of course figolli was the theme being the tradition associated with Maltese Easter.
After the Easter Mass at St Boniface church in Aldgate East, we made our way to the Hall. We anticipated a good turnout and low and behold a good turnout it was indeed. The hall was packed with Maltese; people spilled out to the forecourt, the backyard and outside. In those days the community we knew, was only a few friends, the size of a small church congregation but the word spread and Maltese were turning up from every corner of London and beyond. This was all new to us and nothing like this had ever happened before, so there were good reasons to be excited. There was a sense of euphoria and anticipation, which for us as the organisers, was thrilling and very encouraging.
The very next day we immediately started to think the way forward. In particular, the aims and objectives of the Movement were established and the people who attended signified their intention to become the first members. With such a positive response we embarked to organise other events representing highlights from the Maltese lifestyle and culture. Amongst these were the Carnival Dances, Imnarja Celebrations, Christmas and New Year’s Eve Parties.
Our excitement culminated when on the 8th September 2001 we celebrated the first Malta Day-UK. As the proud owners of our Bambina statue, specially made for the Maltese community to venerate, we could now parade to the British public our Maltese traditions and culture. The Malta Day-UK celebrations have now become the pinnacle of all Maltese celebrations in the United Kingdom
In 2004 Malta joined the European Union and soon after we started to see an influx of first generation Maltese settling in the UK. Our main concern was how to embrace these newcomers within our community while minimising their cultural shock. Our fears were short lived as tey settled nicely and nowadays they have integrated well within the Maltese Community.
As with most things in life, they just don’t materialise by themselves and there has to be the right initiative behind any organisation in order for it to flourish. Success is usually gauged by the response from the people’s attendance. During the past fifteen years your response has been tremendous and the attendance immense! Today the Movement with the ever continued increasing membership enjoys great success for which we are sincerely thankful.
The Movement, however, is not just all about parties. Throughout this period, we have acted as a springboard to many other concerns. We are here for our community. Whenever we helped or comforted someone, when we brought people together or pointed them in the right direction, when we listened, or handed advice, this made our purpose even more worthwhile. We trust that through our approach we have instilled a seed with the values that our forefathers had taught us, and managed to generate recognition and identity for our culture as Maltese nationals living outside our Maltese Islands. To date we are satisfied that we have sustained our role as caretakers of our culture. We now look ahead for any of you brazen enough to come and join us run this great movement so that we can safely pass on the baton for the next fifteen years.
The past fifteen years have had their effect on our community. Looking at some pictures from past functions, those children then are now adults, many of them with children of their own; while some of the very first members and very dear friends, have sadly passed away.
There is no doubt that the future will impose changes to our culture. However strong the convictions and beliefs are, the social development in the people, especially the young will compel change and the Movement has to be ready to adapt accordingly. Nevertheless, whatever the future holds, when we are together, the warm and generous hospitality of the Maltese still prevail; that is what sets us apart from other nationalities.
I shall end by thanking all those who at any time supported us endlessly and all who were instrumental in our success. Our heartfelt gratitude goes especially to you, our members, who supported us continuously for keeping up with the membership and for the many donations you kindly sent, without which the Movement would have not succeeded.
We now take this opportunity to invite you to come and celebrate with us our 15th Anniversary together with your family and friends and enhance this historic day wit your presence!