SABAR - Our Island III is an aditus foundation project that aims to gather the memories of citizens, residents, participants and onlookers of the Malta Protests which took place between November 2019 and January 2020.
The Malta Protests represent a significant moment in Malta’s socio-political history. For us, as a human rights NGO, the Malta Protests are about a sudden awakening from a deep sleep, into a state of disbelief, shock and anger. The Protests mark a strong statement that Malta’s democracy was not a healthy one and that it demanded to be reclaimed by the people.
Good governance and the implementation of rule of law principles are a human rights issue. It is hoped that SABAR will continue to stimulate the discourse surrounding these principles and their application in Malta.
The name of the project, SABAR, takes inspiration from the famous Maltese poem Jum ir-Rebħ written by Rużar Briffa in 1945. Verses from this poem were often recited by the gathered crowds in Valletta during the 2019 protests:
u l-Kotra qamet f'daqqa w
għajtet: "Jien Maltija,
miskin min ikasbarni. miskin
min jidħak bija".
U l-ombra ta' Vassalli qamet,
qamet minn qiegħ il-qabar,
w ghajtet: "Issa, fl-aħħar, jiena
Se nsib is-sabar."*
This poem alludes to an incident in 1945 where the Maltese crowds gathered at a football match spontaneously sang the Maltese national anthem after the British national anthem and the opposing team’s anthem were played. For Briffa this episode ended a period of apathy that Maltese society was suffering from after centuries of colonial rule. The poem’s closing lines imagines Vassalli, an 18th century Maltese philosopher and exiled nationalist, finally finding solace – sabar - in the awakening of the people in the wake of protest.
In order to preserve and collect memories of the protests, we opened a call for the public to submit photos and videos of the period between November 2019 and January 2020. We received over 500 images and videos from 68 individuals or groups. We have tried to include all eligible submissions online, and have attributed some images to anonymous sources if requested by the person submitting.
Together with this online repository of photos and videos, we published a photobook of selected images submitted by participants following the public call. The publication is widely available to the public. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*passages from Jum Ir-Rebħ, Rużar Briffa, 1945
SABAR - Our Island III, is the 3rd edition of the Our Island series: a series which is aimed at conserving the collective memories of Maltese communities gathered around one central theme: Our Island. As with the first two Our Island books, our intention is primarily to document this moment and to preserve its memory, particularly since remembrance and sensitisation resonate with our human rights mission to monitor, report and act on access to human rights in Malta.
The first in the series, Our Island I gathered nine contributions from people who were at the heart of refugee protection in Malta throughout recent years. It is not a historical account of contemporary Maltese history, but rather a gathering of intensely personal insights that shed a unique light on Malta’s recent experiences with refugees. Our Island II presented 12 personal stories of refugees who live or have lived in Malta.
There is no agenda, no NGO narrative, no point to be made. All contributions are presented in their original, as written by the contributors.
Project Leader, Member of Curatorial Teamcarlacamilleri@aditus.org.mt
Carla is the Project Leader for SABAR and also aditus foundation’s Assistant Director. A lawyer by profession, she is our contact point for rule of law issues and has extensive experience in leading projects, including past Creative Communities projects such as Burning Bikinis and You Are What You Eat.
Member of Curatorial Teamneilfalzon@aditus.org.mt
Neil forms part of the SABAR Curatorial Team, together with Carla and Alexandra, and is aditus’ Director. He has years of experience working on human rights themes and engaging with art projects. As part of the team he contributed to the selection of design and images for the website and photobook.
Alexandra Pace is an artist and a curator. Through her multidisciplinary practice she works predominantly with found material, still photography and film. Alexandra is the founder and Director of Blitz, a non-profit contemporary art space in Valletta. As part of the Curatorial Team, Alexandra provided guidance on the selection of visual materials and the designed the photo book.
This website was made possible thanks to the photos and videos submitted by so many contributors. We sincerely thank them for sharing their moments.