Speech - Rev Victor Camilleri OFM (UK)

Rev Victor Camilleri OFM, in the absence of Karmena Mikallef Buhagiar, presented a discussion paper, which highlighted the difficult situation in the United Kingdom with regard to the preservation and development of Maltese Culture and Language among the migrants. There are factors that may have reduced the desired progress, the principal of which was that the Maltese are widely spread over many parts of the country. Indeed, initially they had settled in small communities around London and other counties of England and Wales, but soon they moved to other areas once the conditions were ripe for them to settle elsewhere. Another problem has always been the difficulty in holding outdoor events to celebrate socially or organise religious events in a Maltese-style custom, since events in public areas may be seen as disruptive to the fast moving activities of the British public in their own neighbourhoods. Another salient reason could be perceived in the easy access to Malta by the Maltese residents in the U.K. Whenever they miss their own folk, it is quite simple for them to take a flight to Malta to visit their relatives.

The Use and practice of the Maltese language is quite common, albeit among small circles of migrants, such as in church functions, social events, and in the families. The urge to have an organised group to take care of cultural and language development has been lacking in the community for many years. The various associations in existence over the years left much to be desired. It was however the setting up of the new Organisation, the Maltese Culture Movement, which generated most awareness in the past two years. Many parents are now requesting that their children should be taught the Maltese language.

Fr Camilleri ended by making a formal request to the Maltese authorities to appoint a qualified Maltese teacher for those who wish to learn Maltese. Also, any publications and books that are not in use by schools or libraries in Malta can be forwarded to the Maltese community leaders in the U.K. for distribution among their Maltese clients. A much more realistic liaison can be created between the people of Malta and their emigrated folk overseas.

Source: 'Malta' - Maltese Culture Movement, Issues 4,5,6, 2000.

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