Historically, Fort Saint Elmo in Valletta is known for protecting its grounds from the outside; but on two memorable nights, it housed a different kind of power by welcoming beloved differences. In a country whose only borders are a great sea, the feet of hundreds of curious minds journeyed to the coast of a historic city to eat, drink, and make merry in quite an eclectic scene. Malta’s Second Annual World Music Festival made space for artistic expression through music, food, and culture.
Throughout the evenings, Migrant Women Association Malta’s Saha Food Truck Project granted intimate access into the handiwork of the women of this island whose roots come from this world’s other special places. Established in 2017, the Saha Food Truck Project seeks to provide an entrepreneurial experience to Malta’s migrant women by allowing them to share their cultures with the Maltese community by selling staple cuisines that represent their native homes. Saha’s presence fused with the creative sounds of inspiring artists awakened a zestful energy on the Maltese coast that pulled from all corners of globe.
On breezy, soon-to-be summer evenings, amazing women from Morocco, Libya, Syria, Turkey, and Tunisia lined their wooden stands reminiscent of traditional food markets. Curious faces glowed in admiration of the array of goods on the stands as they mulled over their choice of treats. The sale of the freshly prepared delicacies unique to these women’s ethnic homelands embodied the best of cultural exchange and entrepreneurship through each interaction of the rapidly increasing demand. Excitement and integrity greeted each patron as these women eagerly shared a bit of themselves through the hard work of their culinary delights.
To compliment the worldly exchange taking place at the food stands, a colorful stage served the arena with artists whose sounds were as diverse as their backgrounds. Acts like Refugees for Refugees, Afro Celt Sound System and more enchanted the audience with melodies that echoed the talent and passion in their spirits.
There are few entities with the power to unite people like food and music. The magic of indulging in these creations by others provokes a remarkable exchange that this world needs and from which it thrives. It is difficult to acknowledge Malta’s World Music Festival as anything less than an experience that incited jubilee among a mass of open hearts and minds (and stomachs), broke barriers to cultural expression, and uplifted different identities with acceptance, entertainment, and love. The concentration of heart and art from the stage to the stands enlivened Malta’s beautiful sea coast—
a border and, now, a connector.