I knew Malta was a small country steeped in rich history however I was totally unprepared for what that actually meant in reality. 8000 years of inhabitation and under almost continuous siege, this Mediterranean island has seen more action and change per square mile than you can imagine. Malta has developed an invaluable understanding to learn from what happened yesterday to appreciate what is possible tomorrow. Boasting the oldest freestanding monuments in the world, temples were established a thousand years before the pyramids in Giza, Egypt were built. After the Neolithic period came the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Byzantines all playing their vital part in Malta’s history. St Paul shipwrecked in 60 AD brought Christianity to the island. Then came the Arabs, Normans and Aragonese conquering those already inhabiting the island. Its location in the heart of the Mediterranean meant that Malta was, and continues to be, a desirable strategic location for trade and occupation. The Knights led Malta in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In 1798, Napoleon arrived and despite staying for just six days, his reforms made a deep impression on the running of the country. He abolished slavery freeing Turkish slaves and created primary and secondary education systems. With the help of the British, the French were ousted two years later and the British then ruled Malta for 160 years notably helping the Maltese to fend off the persistent attack of German forces in World War II. Tens of thousands of tonnes of bombs were dropped on Malta. In fact, more bombs were dropped on Malta than on London across the whole Blitz. King George VI awarded Malta the George Cross for its valiant bravery. The plaque is on the walls of the Presidential Palace in Valetta. I did take a photo however unfortunately it is out of focus! Oh, the irony. This is what it said. “To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history.” Finally 1964 finally saw in Malta’s independence becoming a sovereign nation within the British Commonwealth. In 2004, Malta joins the European Union and in 2008 adopts the Euro as its currency. What I found astounding is just how much diversity of knowledge, culture and history can be found on the island of Malta. The beautiful temples, churches and ancient buildings are all physical reminders of those who have carved their place in time. The breath-taking internal decoration of St John’s Co-Cathedral to contrast with its external simplicity. Caravaggio’s captivating painting of the The Beheading of St John the Baptist. The sheer scale of Valetta’s fortification. Yesterday may have gone but here in Malta the days are not lost. They are treasured and honoured. The legacy of yesterday continues on with every day. Everywhere you turn yesterday is etched into the brows of the people, the buildings or the rugged landscape. Years upon years, centuries upon centuries, millennia upon millennia, each generation have built upon the foundations of those who came before. My brief stay in Malta, coincidentally the same time Napoleon spent on the island yet without the threats of a hostile takeover, has deeply humbled me. It has reminded me of the short time that we have alive on earth and showed me the importance of purpose, contribution and legacy. Reflecting on my stay, I know that the knowledge of yesterday is leading me to create a better world. A world of enlightenment, prosperity and awareness. So what can the lessons of yesterday teach you? That is for you to decipher. However, when you focus on yesterday, you unlock the prospect of today and tomorrow. Focus on Yesterday!
ACTION POINT What are the lessons of yesterday that you will apply today?