Sufficient evidence of a cultural complex(1)
Jekk ma tafx l-istorja ta ‘pajjiżek stess, liema storja tkun taf? (2)
1790 amongst the invaders
Place of birth and cultural identifications were not recorded, yet it remains likely that John Pace was the first Maltese sent to Botany Bay. Additional Maltese convicts arrived in 1810, transported for deserting British regiments.(3)
1916 off-shore detention
It is rather remarkable that such a number should arrive on one ship at a time when the plebiscite on conscription was being debated. Should the vote be carried the irruption (3) of Maltese labour would not be exempt. Hitherto the education test has not been applied to the natives of Malta. The British Government were notified by Mr Hughes that this ship’s men would not be admitted. They had travelled on a French vessel, so for a period of about three months, and at a cost of 2234 pounds, the SS Gange housed the 214 in Noumea’s harbour. When the government there objected they waited two more weeks on a hulk on Neutral Bay. Mr Hughes hoped that they might still be sent away. (4)
1926 God save
Upon leaving the military Guiseppe Mifsud signed on the Relion as a cook. When the vessel sank off the Irish coast its crew spent three nights in open boats before making land. With his English wife and daughter he then sailed for Australia. It was rumoured that he had refused to stand for ‘God Save…’ He was accused of spreading Bolshevik propaganda. After he failed his dictation test the family was deported.(5)
1938 Item 7302(6)
a pair of scissors
belonging originally to Teresa Xerri
brought with her that year from Malta
passed on to her daughter Georgina
donated to our museum
by grand-daughter Rita
used in Malta then Australia
to patch and mend
rework and not discard
taqta cut out
aqta ‘barra cut off
aqta’ cut up
1949 live cargo
The proposal that Landing Vessels be employed was rejected as flat-bottomed craft were deemed too uncomfortable for the journey.(7) On November 21, 1949, The Columbia collected 1075 Maltese from Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Three babies died at sea. The Asturias made 15 trips from Malta, the Sydney 39. There were however some complaints in the Maltese press about the seaworthiness of vessels, the type of accommodation on board.(8)
Duelling guitars, tuned to the key of G
accompany slam poets of the ‘50s.
This pair keen to show
they’re better than the next.
Labourers from St Albans,
with Musical scales from Arabic maqams,
laced with Sicilian folksong.
Tales of Ġaħan slaying giants(10)
so the little guy gets a fair go.
Maltese proverbs with impromptu lines.
A bass reverberating historic sieges,
while some riffs evoke longing
The voice, sounding like a wail,
the signature of this regular competition
about who can best express pain.
of our post-war pop culture
that came to be viewed on YouTube in Malta
as some strange Australian throwback. (11)
50’s to 60’s child migration
The federal government promoted child migration, claiming it was the best way to populate white Australia. 259 boys and 51 girls travelled alone from Malta so that they could create new lives for themselves in Australia. Some were sent by their parents who believed the Church would liberate their offspring from poverty. The children came to live in Catholic institutions in South and West Australia where they were denied contact with families and made to work on Christian Brothers projects.(12)
1979 Freedom day
British forces leave Malta. The Independent Labour government breaks off relations with NATO and seeks links with the Arab world. After 900 years of being linked to Europe, Malta begins to look southward. (13)
1997 Terra Nullius
when my car broke down
I didn’t understand
why the publican refused to let me use his landline
pointing me to the phone box just 3 km up the road
or why the RACV guy
just grunted and wasn’t much help
or why the boys in the diner
looking for a fight said
you can never tell
but his skin’s so dark
later that night
first nation T-shirt
the penny dropped
2005 going back
My accent, my clothes
conceal a Maltese birthmark.
I walk the Sliema promenade
as I do every evening.
meet neighbours, friends, where I
know only my otherness.
They don’t understand
how I spend the year living here,
assuming I’m some felon
on the run.
Because here you only make it
if you claw
& claw & claw.
No green spaces, desert air,
or ocean breakers.
Swallowing Pastizzi with Kinnie
only ruins. Stone forms my belly
the Hal-Saflieni temple
of the fat Sleeping Lady
mocked by a row of
that just serves to strangle
the concrete path
my father left before.
2020 sufficient evidence
We fail to find sufficient evidence that the treatment you provide is evidence based. I’m not saying that it lacks an evidence base, only that in reading your submission, despite our best efforts, and we do our work thoroughly, we have struggled to identify it.(14)
(1) By definition, a cultural complex involves a pattern that is unconscious, repetitive, and persistent. It operates at both the group and individual levels. https://www.routledge.com/The-Cultural-Complex-Contemporary-Jungian-Perspectives-on-Psyche-and-Society/Singer-Kimbles/p/book/9781583919149
(2) if you don’t know the story of your country, what story would you know? (Maltese proverb)
(4) M. Caruana https://maltamigration.com/history/newcaledonia.html
(6) B. York https://maltamigration.com/history/maltese-australian/prohibited6.html
(7) Museums Victoria https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/1067281
(8) L. Attard https://maltamigration.com/history/valve/chapter2a.html
(9) L. Attard https://maltamigration.com/history/valve/chapter2b.html
(10) Traditional Maltese impromptu poetry with accompanying folk guitar known a Għana is still found in the Maltese diaspora but now rarely heard in Malta.
(11) This section of of writing was previously published in Walking Home, a chapbook produced by MPU.
(12) Ġaħan is a wise working-class hero in Maltese folktales, his character initially seems that of a young fool.
The 2020 text is reconstructed from phone call in which a recently appointed senior psychologist from a Victorian government service outlines her rationale to not renew services successfully delivered by a Maltese Psychologist for over a decade.