Letters: 16 August 2015

Independent monument's origins

On reading President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici’s book ‘Konvinzjoni u Esperjenza’, I took particular interest where reference was made to the commission and execution of the Independence monument, as documented in his book.

While appreciating Dr Mifsud Bonnici’s appraisal of my work, I was at the same time astonished when he wrote on page 420: “kelli nispjegalu xi xtaqna min-ghandu: figura ta’ mara zaghzugha, qed tinhall mill-irbit; qed izzid il-fiducja fiha nnifisha, qed thares bi sfida lejn il-futur” (“I had to explain to him what we wanted from him: the figure of a young woman, untying herself from shackles, showing growing confidence in herself, looking at the future challengingly”).

I took exception to those words because what he wrote gives the impression that the whole artistic idea, including the details, were those of the cabinet. In actual fact it was Chevalier Paul Naudi, chairman of the Committee for the Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of independence, who had contacted me and asked me to prepare a scale model for a monument commemorating Independence.

In the competition, which was held for that purpose and in which I did not participate, no indication was given as to what form this monument had to take. When no one was selected, Chev. Naudi commissioned me to prepare a scale model, and even then, he gave me no direction regarding how the work had to be expressed. The whole artistic idea of the monument was mine and not as indicated in the book.

I contacted President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici for clarification and in a letter dated 16th June, 2015 he affirmed that : “L-izvilupp tal-idea huwa kollu kemm huwa ta’ Ganni Bonnici. Huwa l-artist. Il-Ministri u l-Kabinett ma kellhomx u ma ppretendew l-ebda meritu hlief li ghamlu ghazla tajba meta hadna d-decizjoni li naghzlu lill-iskultur Bonnici ghal dan l-inkarigu.” (“The idea’s development is entirely Ganni Bonnici’s. He is the artist. The Ministers and the Cabinet did not have and did not assume they had any merit except in making the right choice when we decided to pick sculptor Bonnici for this task.”)

Ganni Bonnici, Attard

Women and religion

Over the years, we have had too many religious programmes on the non-religious station Campus FM. The latest is a series of lectures by a woman on women and religion – as if there isn’t enough proselytising in priest-ridden Malta!

In this age of religious fanaticism, we now have female proselytisers too.

Women have always been religion’s most gullible dupes, from the hysterical Mary Magdalene to the God-doubting Mother Teresa.

Maltese women are devotees of id-Duluri, a cult that harks back to Isis, the original Sorrowing Mother, and to Demeter, the Mater Dolorosa of the ancient Greeks. 

A week before Easter, you see mournful Maltese women shuffling behind a kitschy statue of Mary, with a dagger in her heart, while they mumble their dreary rosaries.

It is a fact that women shed tears on demand. No wonder they’re so devoted to the sad, lachrymose cult of id-Duluri!

In Mediterranean countries, religion is “a secondary sexual characteristic of the female”.

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s

New Labour is new no more

Having read the article ‘The man who will make British Labour unelectable?’ (MaltaToday, Sunday, 9 August), I couldn’t help but wonder whether the late Margaret Thatcher was right in claiming that socialism is dead. After all, self-declared socialists such as the ones interviewed for the purpose of the article are keener on a more moderate approach which embraces capitalism, rather than traditional socialist values.

The preceding point which went through my head while skimming through the article, which seems to bash Jeremy Corbyn, popped into my thoughts because of one major factor – that Conservatives in Britain and everywhere else around the world have forced socialists to think that their left-wing approach towards problem-solving is too old to work.

Tony Blair, an avid supporter of the theory in question, sought to reform Labour in 1994 and together with aides such as Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell came up with “New Labour”, which moved Labour to the centre of the political spectrum, making the British Labour party seem much more open to entrepreneurship and business in general.

In taking this decision, one would argue that New Labour’s architects were perhaps proving Margaret Thatcher right – real socialism was dead and it would be replaced by a centrist economic policy which when coupled with a progressive social agenda would be just enough to keep the party on the left by a whisker.

However, New Labour is new no more, it has rather become old news for new young socialists who are unable to draw a line between the latter and a conservative economic policy. Young people all over the world  are looking for newer solutions, and while in the States some would argue that the answer was found in Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, in Britain it seems that Corbyn is the object that shines the most on the left.

Make no mistake, although born in the 1990s, I do understand the troubles which British Labour went through in the 1980s, when it was dubbed unelectable. Michael Foot’s legacy is the reason why some still have a bitter taste of a traditional Labourite movement; the very thought that Labour could elect a traditional socialist to the leadership scares them to death.

It would be unwise, however, to dismiss Corbyn’s 2020 vision with a 30-year-old criterion. One must rather look elsewhere, and at newer times preferably to find criteria which then could be applied to Corbyn.

The Scottish issue, where the Scottish National Party seemingly wiped Labour off the map in Scotland, also needs to be taken into account. The SNP’s nationalism, coupled with an anti-austerity message, made Labour seem too centrist for Scotland and as a result only one Labour candidate survived the so called “electoral tsunami” which saw over 40 Labour MPs losing their seat.

With regard to this issue, we have yet to ask ourselves – what will it take the Scots to regain their confidence in Labour? A centrist leader, or a more traditional and authentic socialist?

Brendan Zerafa, Marsaxlokk

Malta's culture of dependency

With reference to Wednesday’s editorial ‘A national culture of dependency’, I believe it failed to identify “who is to blame for this state of affairs” which the editorial itself raised. Instead of saying what I think would be the right answer to that question, I opt to quote one of my favourite movies, ‘V for Vendetta’, taken from a speech which the main character ‘V’ addresses to the citizens of London:

“Because while the truncheon (guns and violence) may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? … How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”

George Caruana, Mosta