The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

Oldest 'dgħajsa' to be used for commemoration of Manuel Dimech's exile

Malta Independent Monday, 1 September 2014, 09:30 Last update: about 6 years ago

A traditional Maltese ‘dghajsa’ (shall take pride of place at next Friday’s activity in Valletta marking the 100 years since Manuel Dimech’s exile. The dghajsa forms part of a small fleet of boats belonging to the Koperattiva tal-Barklori. It is named ‘Palomba’, and is the oldest in the Maltese Islands. 

It was built more than 150 years ago. It was actually part of Dimech’s time when commuting dghajjes in the Grand Harbour counted in the hundreds. 

Today thoroughly restored to its original glory, the ‘Palomba’ had been inherited from generation to generation. It shall be from this dghajsa that next Friday, 5 September, the President of Malta shall be laying flowers at sea as a sign of gratitude to Dimech ultimate sacrifice.

This commemoration is being held exactly to the day and time when Dimech had been exiled a 100 years ago, on 5 September 1914. It was precisely at 7 pm that the Italian steam ship S.S. Stura began making its way out of Grand Harbour, forcibly carrying Dimech to his perpetual exile.

At the activity the President shall be unveiling a commemorative plaque marking the spot from where Dimech was exiled. Also, Sensiela Kotba Socjalisti (SKS) shall be launching a new book containing an anthology with Dimech’s poems, Dimech Poeta: Mill-habs ghall-ezilju (Dimech the Poet: From prison to exile), prepared by Jessica Micallef. The activity shall be held at Lascaris Wharf, opposite the Barrakka Lift.

Though the dghajsa type of boat is consistently displayed as a Maltese characteristic, the ‘Palomba’ is one of only 12 remaining of its type. Carpinters skilled to build a dghajsa are now almost extinct. The boat is being pride of place to draw the authorities’ attention to preserving such gems of Malta’s cultural heritage.

The activity next Friday will begin at 7 pm. The public is invited to attend.

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