In 1999, when the members of our association decided to publish this newspaper, they had no idea of how difficult the undertaking would be. However, the will of those of us, who decided to volunteer our free time so that our love for Mani could be expressed through the newspaper, was stronger than the difficulties that we would be facing. For all of these years, our course of action was guided by researching and publishing those historical elements that constitute the heritage of our heroic ancestors; we also tried to connect these elements to today’s needs and to the prospects for the future, a future that we would like to be as bright as possible for our children and for future generations.
In our very first issue, we presented our professional ethics, which have remained the same in the twenty years that have passed. These values are also reflected in the title of our newspaper: “MANIOT SOLIDARITY”. We all know that for many centuries the primitive custom of family scores and blood feuds prevailed in our area. This inhumane custom caused long-running conflicts and constant agitation in the Maniot society. It is a blessing that during the last decades this custom has disappeared, at least in the form of revenge killings. It is not certain that the societal and biological substrate that caused these blood feuds has also disappeared. This mentality, expressed as suspicion and resentment, leads to selfish perceptions and makes a meeting of minds impossible. However, the reconciliation of different positions and the finding of common ground are absolutely necessary for the development and prosperity of the region. Our goal is to help bring Maniots together, so that we can together showcase those elements that make our area unique. The geophysical characteristics of our region, our cultural monuments, the great climate and the spontaneous hospitality of Maniots are timeless characteristics that attract many visitors. If Maniots decide to stand in solidarity and support each other, the disastrous divisions that we have seen, and which have cost our area more than the blood feuds of the past, will become less frequent. These divisions continue to hinder the efforts necessary for the development of our area.
The course of action
The phases of our long publishing journey were not always smooth or without problems. Because of the common efforts of the members and directors of our association, we managed to overcome them. In addition to the steady publication of our monthly newspaper, we went further in our editorial goals. We ventured into the publishing of several books on Mani, such as: “Guide to Tourist Investments”; “Vignettes from the History of Mani”, volume 1; the booklet “Western Mani: 20 Sightseeing Spots Starting at the Boundary at Kalamata”; and “Travel Routes” (Outer, Lower, Inner Mani and Bardunia) with detailed references to all settlements. Last year, in response to today’s digital era expectations, we upgraded our website www.maniatiki.gr by adding a lot of data about Mani and many articles and editorials from our newspaper. The high number of Maniot and philo-Maniot visitors to our website proves the necessity of our most recent undertaking.
The future prospects
We believe that our moral obligation towards Mani does not end here. We will continue with further work, such as the publication of the second volume of the book “Vignettes from the History of Mani”, which will bring us to the years relating to the preparations for the revolution of 1821. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the publication of our newspaper “MANIOT SOLIDARITY” and always loyal to our original goals, we are also in the process of finalising plans for additional initiatives to be undertaken in the near future.
We would like to end this article with the following excerpt from the editorial of the first issue of our newspaper in April 1999, with a message which is still relevant today: “The publication of this newspaper will fill a void. Mani is characterised by sparse populations and long distances between villages. The infertile soil and the need for employment as well as the civil wars have forced a large percentage of Maniots to immigrate either to other Greek regions or abroad. However, the main characteristics of our ancestors are still present in their genes, particularly the love for our country and everything that is related to our home region, such as its institutions, the occupational activities of its inhabitants, its prospects for the future and its prosperity. Maniots are indeed an integral part of Mani, and based on strong common roots, they have succeeded in developing common attitudes and have accomplished some of the most glorious achievements in the history of our country. Through the newspaper that we are now launching, we will try to showcase all relevant facts, so that the younger generations will also learn about the basic principles, attitudes and lifestyles of their ancestors. Hopefully today’s young Maniots will also be inspired by their glorious common past and they will firmly move forward and face the future by adopting strong joint undertakings.”