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A Guide to being Maltese

Po-tate-O, po-ta-toe and Maltese idiosyncrasy

The internet works in strange ways. Factor in the use of social media, and any person who dares to stand in front of a camera is practically at the mercy of any online user. These past couple of months have been very interesting for the Maltese cyber space. We have had the first electoral campaign practically played out online, with politicians even joining in through their personal accounts. We also have had a couple of cultural ‘anomalies’, including Chiara’s Zarbun (to the delight of internet trolls) and the following video about a young potato farmer professing this love for his trade.

I personally love this video, as it exposes a raw and earthy undertone to Maltese agriculture. This video also resonates a bit with my childhood, when I used to help my father collect potatoes cultivated in our back garden. While I will not say it was the most enriching experience of my life, it was quite rewarding to be able to eat our own produce. However, this video was met with very negative reviews by most social media users, who took it upon themselves to display their distaste and shame to this video being linked to Malta.

Maltese potatoes, the centre of the latest internet sensation! (Photo credit: KNOW MALTA by Peter Grima)

While these people are obviously entitled to their opinion, I actually feel embarrassed for them. I have met such people during my time in Malta, and I can confidently say that they belong to an idiosyncratic group of imbeciles who look down on people such as the young farmer in this video. Here is my response to some of the comments that have been floating around social media sites:

Level of English diction: this individual may not have attended higher education, but his level of English is pretty damn good. Try having a conversation in English with a Spanish person in Spain, or a Greek person in Greece – good luck. We are lucky to have a higher proficiency in English than most EU countries, but the trolls find this guy’s accent and choice of grammar hilarious. How about asking these trolls to speak in Maltese? I actually met people who did not know the difference between an onion and garlic in Maltese – now THAT is something to laugh about!

Bad representation of Maltese people: Trolls have a limited mental capacity to understand that foreigners would not make an all rounded association between the Maltese population and this individual. Seeing as trolls revel in putting all other people that are not like them in the same box, they assume that foreigners would do the same. I can assure you that non-Maltese people are accustomed to a diverse array of people, so they would actually be charmed by seeing someone like this chap who is passionate about what he is doing.

Th UK saw one the coldest and longest winters in recent history. The news also showcased the frustration and fear of sheep farmers who were losing large numbers of their herds. They also showed videos of farmers desperately digging to find surviving sheep that were caught in snow storms. I wonder if the British were embarrassed by these farmers who were doing nothing else but showing their ‘passion’ for their sheep -i.e. their livelihood (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

A terrible tourism advert: This is also a grossly unjustified analysis. We have been putting tradesmen in our MTA adverts for years, ranging from lace makers, to fishermen making their own kannizzati for artisanal fishing and  glass blowers. So why the fuss about someone promoting  potato farming, which is a good source of Maltese export?

Maltese women making Bizzilla (Maltese Lace) in the traditional way. I they are featured in a video, will they also be mocked and ridiculed? (Photo credit: Chevron

If people want to make fun of this young man, they unfortunately can do so from the comforts of their home. But I urge them to not make ridiculous assumptions on the basis of their inherent ignorance and lack of tolerance for people of a different background.

Join the discussion

  1. quarteracrehome

    Man! Makes me want to eat some of those great looking potatoes! :O

  2. Anthony

    Aw Antoine. I don’t think you should worry about the trolls too much – it’s natural for people to poke fun on the internet. I think the feedback for this video has been mostly positive. Sure it’s funny when he says things like “I have potato blood flowing through my veins” – why not laugh at that?

    • Antoine Borg Micallef

      I’m not going to cry myself to sleep over it 😛 and some phrases were amusing (but if you notice they were literal translations from Maltese sayings, e.g. jien l-patata f’demmi, or il-patata hajti. I just found it very crass for some people to poke fun at this individual on a personal level, hence the post 🙂

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