Let’s just say the political legacy of Malta’s Independence Day is rather fraught

The Skinny • No 1. Independence Day

What are we skinning? Malta’s annual Independence Day, celebrated next week - September 21.

So, what’s the skinny? Malta gained Independence from Britain in 1964, with negotiations overseen by then-Prime Minister Gorg Borg Olivier of the Nationalist Party.

Why are we skinning it? Because as it happens, Independence Day is something of a ‘matryoshka doll’ of Malta’s national holidays.

How so? After Independence Day came Republic Day on December 13, 1974, commemorating the day the Queen of England no longer had anything to do with our laws and constitution. And it was only on March 31, 1979 - celebrated as ‘Freedom Day’ - that the last remaining British troops sailed away from Malta for good, under the watchful eye of firebrand prime minister Dom Mintoff.

So Independence wasn’t a ‘one-and-done’ deal for Malta, then? Not really. Hence, matryoshka.

Why is that necessary? Can’t we just have one encompassing holiday. Ha! You sweet summer child…

What? Well, let’s just say the political legacy of all this is rather fraught. Let’s keep it as simple as possible: having happened under the Nationalist Gorg Borg Olivier, Independence Day was always heralded as that party’s benchmark festivity.

So this is the big freedom bash for the PN, then? Funny you should say that.

What’s up? Any other year, the answer to your question would have been an uncomplicated ‘yes’. But there’s a sting in the tail this time around. As it happens, the PN’s trademark celebration – or ‘Indifest’ – to commemorate Independence will not be taking place at its usual venue of the Granaries in Floriana.

Because they’re broke? Essentially, yes.

Hmmm. So will it be Netflix and chill for PN supporters come next Sunday? Well, not really. Celebrations are still on, only they will be taking place at the more humble Nationalist Party HQ (‘Dar Centrali’) at Blata l-Bajda, in a move that PN Secretary General Clyde Puli describes as “a responsible decision which ensures the celebrations will go on without placing any additional burden on the party coffers”. Clever Clyde!

Do say: “It sure feels nice to be free from the shackles of colonial rule.”

Don’t say: “Yes okay, Boris Johnson would sort-of be our PM right now, but maybe we’d have nicer public gardens and better-landscaped village cores if the Brits never left?”