The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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‘Il-Furjana’ celebrates its 70th birthday

Sunday, 1 October 2023, 09:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

A book about Floriana will be published in 2024. Martin Camilleri, coordinator, writes.

Florianite historian Prof. Henry Frendo, who researched a lot about the history of Maltese journalism, some 20 years ago wrote that the Floriana local gazette Il-Furjana was an absolute record in Maltese journalism. The first issue of Il-Furjana was published in October 1953. It was not the first of its kind in the Maltese islands. But nothing lasted as the Floriana paper.

Originally Il-Furjana was the mouthpiece of the Floriana School Old Boys Association (FSOBA), which was founded in 1949. When the FSOBA, which later became known as Fsobians Club, found itself in crisis which eventually led to its closure, a small group of Florianites took over the administration of the paper and continued to keep it alive, despite many problems, especially to meet with the growing costs of production.


Its Mission Statement, as explained in the front-page of the first issue, is to instill in the Florianites love for their native town, enhance the unity among them and increase their good traditions. All these laudable intentions still guide the paper today.

During its seven decades of history, Il-Furjana had 10 different editors under whose guidance were published 267 issues of the paper. Among these there were some who were known, or later became known also on a national level.

They include the first editor John M. Testa (educator, 1953-55), Chev. Emanuel S. Tonna (educator and philantropist, 1957-58, 1960-67, 1971-74),  academics Prof. Oliver Friggieri (1983-86) and Dr David Fabri (1987-88), Nigel Holland (former Floriana mayor, 1991-2002) and Salvator Mousú (broadcaster, 1958-60).

The other editors were Gerald V. Bilocca (1961-63), Anthony Piscopo (1967-69, 1974-78, 1979-83, 1989-90), Adrian Agius (1978-79) and the present editor Stephen Tonna (2002-) .

To mark the Platinum Jubilee of the paper, the Editorial Board has published a special two-in-one issue - a commemorative issue and a reproduction of the first 1953 issue in the centre pages.

The commemorative issue includes articles about the various mastheads used during the seven decades of its history, the various editors, the different printing presses in which it was printed and an article about the shop known in Floriana as Ta' (Lorenzo) Ellul, which is the only one that advertised in the first issue of the paper and still exists in the present day.


Three books

Besides publishing four issues or more of Il-Furjana every year, the current Editorial Board of the paper, since 2015 embarked onto another branch of the printing sector. Since then, it published two books and at present has another one in the pipeline, to be published next year.

The first book was Il-Knisja ta' San Publju fil-Furjana - Storja u Arti, which was about the St Publius Church of Floriana. It was published in 2015.

The second book, printed in 2020, was L-Ark ta' San Publju tal-Furjana 1899-2019, which was about the triumphal arch of Floriana, destroyed in an arson act in 2019.

Both books were almost a sell-out. They included papers from a number of scholars and academics such as Judge Emeritus Giovanni Bonello and Prof. Friggieri.

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Floriana, which falls on 9 May 2024, Il-Furjana  Publications will be launching a new book which will include some 30 papers written by academics and experts in different fields. The book, which will be of interest not only to Florianites but also to all Melitensia collectors, will be edited by Florianite Dr Joan Abela.

Anyone who is interested in acquiring a copy of the special Platinum Jubilee issue of Il-Furjana or any other previous issues or want to book a copy of the forthcoming book or subscribe in the paper for only 5 annually, can phone on 7933 9649 or send an email to [email protected]

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