Malta celebrates Independence Day

It was the 21 September 1964 that Malta stopped being a British colony and on a sunny day took its first steps as a nation State

Gorg Borg Olivier waving to the crowd after signing the documents that granted Malta independence on 21 September 1964
Gorg Borg Olivier waving to the crowd after signing the documents that granted Malta independence on 21 September 1964

Unlike today, the 21 September 1964 was an overwhelmingly sunny day while then-Prime Minister Gorg Borg Olivier signed the instruments of independence.

The documents sealed Malta's sovereignty 54 years ago. A little nation at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea had finally become a nation State.

It was the first time, Malta had wrested its own destiny from the hands of colonial powers that for the entirety of recorded history ruled this island.

Independence is one of five national days that mark important political milestones in Malta’s history. Politicians have been unable, over five decades to agree on having one national day.

During the Nationalist Party’s Independence Day celebrations over the past week, PN leader Adrian Delia pitched for Independence to be recognised as the national day.

“It is the day when Malta was born as a nation State and all other important milestones like Republic Day and Freedom Day would not have been possible without independence,” he said.

The monument in Floriana marking Independence Day
The monument in Floriana marking Independence Day

Labourites are unlikely to buy his line. Historically derided as “a farce”, many in the Labour Party still believe that true independence was achieved when the British military base was finally closed on 31 March 1979.

There was a period under Labour rule in the 1980s when Independence Day had even been removed from a national holiday.

The compromise solution found after 1987 was to have five national days, keeping everybody happy and enshrining the political division that splits national days along party lines.

Writing recently in the Times of Malta, Labour Party councillor Desmond Zammit Marmara also called for Independence Day to be recognised as Malta's national day. His remains a voice in the wilderness within Labour circles.

READ ALSO: National days: A mistimed discussion

To celebrate the historic moment, the Inquisitor's Palace in Birgu will today open its doors to the public for free.

There will be guided tours available from 10am onwards.

Malta's military tattoo at St George's Square will also present a number of parades. This will be the 15th edition of the show and will feature performances by the Malta Police Force and the Armed Forces of Malta.

In London, Malta's Independence Day was celebrated with Victor Grech's art and with the voices of soprano Nicola Said and tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens as the new Maltese High Commissioner in London, Joseph Cole took office.

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