As many know, Calypso, the nymph from Greek mythology, is the symbol that we often use to refer to the island of Gozo. We use this symbolism because Greek mythology narrates that Calypso lived on the island. The association of Gozo with Greek mythology means that the island has an ancient history and the proof is the rich historical heritage that we enjoy today.
Since this patrimony started with Calypso, it is easy to imagine that she must be extremely jealous of it and keen to see it well kept.
This begs the question whether Calypso is sad or happy with the way the patrimony is taken care of. Such question comes at a moment when the oldest free standing structure in the world, the Ġgantija Temples, situated on the outskirts of Xagħra, have just been vandalised.
With respect to such a grave act, the mood of Calypso cannot be but bad, very bad indeed. This is so because the act of vandalism carried out at the Ġgantija Temples is irreversible and because of the blatant arrogance and stupidity shown by the perpetrators.
Calypso must have imagined that by now, year 2016, the strong injection of education and awareness in our community, was going to be sufficient to prevent anyone in any way damaging any of our priceless historical heritage. To her biggest disappointment, the acts of vandalism carried out at the temples showed that the education and awareness disseminated so far are perhaps still too little.
Calypso must also have imagined that by now the level of security at our places of historical interest was going to be high enough to prevent acts of vandalism. Since the security service at the Ġgantija Temples intervened only when the damage to the megalith had already been inflicted, it is legitimate for Calypso to conclude that the security service needs to be strengthened and equipped with more resources.
The acts of vandalism at the Ġgantija Temples coincided with more sad news for Calypso. In fact, it was around that same period that the death of David Trump was announced. Calypso must have been very fond of Trump, because this gentleman dedicated most of his life researching the ancient history of the island of Gozo.
We owe a great deal of what we know about those remote times and the people who inhabited Gozo then to him. The sterling work carried out by Trump will definitely be continued by others, but in the ambit of archaeology in Gozo, his expertise and passion will definitely be missed.
The loss of Trump has already saddened Calypso enough. So now, she hopes that her island will not let her down even more, by forgetting altogether of the professor’s memory. Calypso expects that as a major benefactor, he will be remembered in a prominent way in Gozo.
The sad news mentioned above are little or nothing in comparison to the very sad situation of Calypso’s Cave and the surrounding area, on the outskirts of Xagħra. The legend narrates that this cave was Calypso’s home and it is said that at this cave, with a breath-taking view of Ramla l-Ħamra, the nymph and the Greek warrior Ulysses had the time of their lives. The situation of this area is precarious.
The cave was first quarried all around and it is now closed to the public, because it is in danger of collapsing. One can only imagine how heart-breaking this situation might be for Calypso. If only her descendents, the Gozitans of today, would stop and think of the consequences.
If the cave were to collapse, it would mean that the Gozitan identity, which we so proudly date back to Calypso, would have lost its place of origin. This is not just an issue of Gozitan pride, but also an issue that impinges on our pockets.
Wouldn’t the eventual loss of Calypso’s Cave mean that we have one attraction less to attract tourists to Gozo and to spend their money here? So, what are we waiting for to stop neglecting Calypso’s Cave and to carry out the necessary restoration works?
Thankfully, news concerning Gozo’s historical heritage isn’t all sad
Thankfully, news concerning Gozo’s historical heritage isn’t all sad. Every now and then, Calypso receives news from her fellow Gozitans that bring a smile on her godly face. For instance, throughout this past summer, the multi-million restoration project at the Citadel in Victoria was finally concluded.
This walled fortress, which dominates the panorama of Victoria, was in dire need of restoration and works initiated by the previous government and continued by the current one, gave it the much deserved facelift. Today, the Citadel is a shining gem in the heart of Gozo.
Furthermore, works on a facelift are ongoing at Ta’ Kola windmill. This building forms part of the Gozitan historical heritage too, because it opens a window on past times when flour, the main ingredient in our people’s diet, was produced by means of a wind-generated mill.
Some years ago, the windmill’s mechanism was damaged by weather elements and the antennas had to be dismantled and constructed afresh. The windmill divested of its antennas constitutes a scar in the skyline of Xagħra, the village where it is located and, needless to say, Calypso is eagerly waiting for the complete removal of such scar.
Calypso understands that the reconstruction of the windmill’s mechanism is a delicate matter, but she also believes that such reconstruction maybe took too long.
Another multi-million project, which made Calypso smile, was certainly the heritage park built around the Ġgantija Temples by the former government. This park offers visitors a thorough experience of the era during which the temples were erected.
The displays explain the value of the temples and the surroundings with respect to the whole Mediterranean civilisation. The effort made by the authorities to shed a spotlight on Ġgantija and its value was truly substantial.
This stresses even more why the acts of vandalism perpetrated recently at the temples felt very much like a blow to Calypso’s face and her love of Gozo’s historical heritage.
The above are of course just a handful of examples out of many. However, they are enough to demonstrate that in so far as the conditions of Gozo’s historical heritage, Calypso has her happy moments, and also sad moments. The question is whether we are doing enough to please her.
I’m afraid that Calypso’s reply is a ‘No’. The historical heritage donated to Gozo by Calypso and her descendents was extremely generous and therefore, she expects that we the Gozitans of today reciprocate and be very generous with the upkeep of such heritage.
Increasing the effort in this respect is after all in our best interest, because who stands to benefit certainly is not Calypso, but the island symbolised by her, in other words, the present generation of Gozitans and future ones.
Kevin Cutajar is a Nationalist Party candidate for Gozo.