Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gibraltar's post-colonial history celebrated

Edinburgh Estate

Jaime Netto, Housing Minister, brushed aside party politics and saw Gibraltar's sense of history taking a post-colonial leap yesterday as the buildings in the Edinburgh Estate were named after 17 leading Gibraltarians of the last century. Journalists, artists, trade unionists, figures from every walk of life were chosen to give their names to homes formerly only known by their military numeration.

It was an emotional scene as the family and friends of those honoured gathered at the entrance porch of the estate where individual plaques with short biographies have been placed and where, after a blessing from the Bishop Charles Caruana, Mr Netto formally unveiled a commemorative plaque. The names, some recent, some perhaps forgotten until now, signal a reflection on Gibraltarians achievement.

At the City Hall Chief Minister Peter Caruana presented each member of the families with a special memento of the day, a crystal model of the Rock with the name of the family member honoured in the naming of the estate. Mr Caruana praised the work and special interest of the office of the Housing Minister and of Mr Netto himself.

He described the naming of the estate as a monument to "so many Gibraltarian forefathers who have contributed to the richness of our culture and heritage. I think that recognition is due to Jaime for his dedication to the principle and concept, the project and the idea are his, and it is true to say that this is the first estate which bears names which are relevant to us as a people in terms of our own civilian identity and culture, and the vision is his and he deserves recognition for it."

Recalling a predecessor, the late Robert Mor's words that housing ministers rarely enjoy the limelight of publicity but rather more often than not the burden of stress, Mr Netto paid tribute to the individuals who had made a long-lasting contribution to our future as a people and Gibraltar's heritage.

He described how the Government had been approached by tenants seeking to have names on their blocks rather than numbers and how this was also of practical benefit to the emergency services for locating residences. People who have a passion for local history had been called together to advise on names of people who had contributed to local civic history.

"In the past Governor's names, military names, ships and so on have been used. There is nothing wrong with that but these reflected our colonial past," said Mr Netto who noted that it was from 1815 on that the local population came to outnumber the military. We are redressing the balance," he said recognising that these persons were being given recognition now that they had not received in their lifetime. He saluted the enlightenment, talent and benefit they brought to the local community from all walks of life.

He also announced that the new Senior Citizens' building at the 'Sands' plot will be named 'Albert Risso House'. He paid tribute to Mr Risso's contribution to creating a welfare state from scratch for Gibraltarians "when standards were not so good." It was a happy occasion for the families. Pepi Holliday’s daughter of Rudecindo Mannia was chuffed. "He always said that people are not recognised in their lifetime. But at least I'm here and I know he would have been very pleased. And he is with friends, many, many friends," she said looking around the walls.

That sentiment was common to many of those there. Charles McCarthy was representing the family of Leni Mifsud.

"This is great and long overdue. It was a brilliant idea to commemorate local artists and people of Gibraltar. It should continue."

Marie Davis, wife of the late Sir Howard, said "I am very proud, as you can imagine to have a house named after my late husband. He would have been really proud."

Francis Mosquera, son of Nemesio the actor, was overwhelmed.

"This is very emotional, something that cannot be explained. It must continue as there are many left out too."

Pepe Noguera's son, also Pepe, was present too and said his father would have been proud of the honour. So too Opposition member Charles Bruzon was touched by the recognition of his father, Louis. Expressing gratitude and this recognition of his father both as a scriptwriter and journalist. He was proud that his father had defended Gibraltar "as every good Gibraltarian should."

Guido Pace, Victor Bashery's nephew was, along with the many others present, happy and proud. He recalled how he had always hoped that there would be a box in the Theatre Royal that would carry his uncle's name.

Maruja Olga Crocock, Pepe Lagares' daughter had made her first trip to the Rock in ten years for the occasion. "I am so proud. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before. This keeps what he has done alive," she said thanking all concerned.

Pepe Nuza, trade unionist, represented the family of Alberto Fava. He noted that many opportunities to recognise Mr Fava's role in history had not been taken including in books and histories of Gibraltar. He was pleased that people had now remembered him.

There were vivid memories for all present. Marie Carmen Gomez, wife of guitarist William, was very proud that her late husband's contribution was being appreciated. It was summed up by Elizabeth Mascarenhas whose husband Manolo is amongst those remembered :

Many of the people honoured are contemporaries and if they all have one thing in common it is that they were all of the people, and their names have survived through the years because they have been remembered by the people. And it was about time they were given recognition. It is a great honour for me and my daughter and for the other families but a bigger honour for those whose names will live on because individually they all contributed a great deal to the local community in many facets to form a part of our history.


Blogger dinilove said...

victor bashery was nothing short of a legend , i am his great niece and i am so proud to be part of the family , his brother was my grandfather and i am still in awe of all there work!

12:12 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home