It is historically established that in difficult times, when the independence of our region was threatened by external enemies, Maniots always joined forces in a united front to repel them. It is also historically proven that, despite cross-breeding with the new inhabitants, who for various reasons were arriving to our region, the original population nucleus was homogenised and uniform with common characteristics such as religion, language, customs, traditions and a strong desire for freedom. These observations are not in conflict with the traditional autonomy of the smaller areas of Mani and the autonomy of the families that lived there. The crucial question at the present post-modern phase of evolution of human societies, is whether it is necessary for Mani to face the future as a single administrative unit. The 200th anniversary of the revolution of 1821 is an ideal opportunity not only for celebrating, but also for reflecting and finding answers to this question.
On March 17, we celebrated, in Areopolis, the 200th anniversary of the decision made by the Maniot warlords to join arms against the Ottoman conquerors in order to liberate the Greek territories. This memorable date could be the starting point for reflection on the administrative reorganisation of our region. After the presidential decrees of 2020, which officially recognised the leadership of our ancestors in the national independence struggle of 1821, the highest representatives of the state came to this year’s celebrations in Areopolis. The Maniot leadership and vanguard were often mentioned in the official speeches of that day. This long-overdue recognition of the value and the huge achievements of our ancestors needs now to be furthered with corresponding political actions. One such action is an administrative restructuring, so that Mani can speak as one, with a common voice. This will give Mani the capability of a single expression, so that it can deal with the challenges of the future in a unified way.
But despite the favourable starting point of March 17, there are many difficulties to overcome. The local representatives of our region need to have the appropriate moral stature, so that they are able to put aside individual aspirations in order to work for the common good. It is difficult to deal with the distractions created on a daily basis by petty jealousies and personal political interests. The only way to advance the goal of the administrative restructuring of our region is by studying the prevailing conditions and carefully planning the reorganisation process step-by-step. Of course, this can only be achieved by first establishing the desired form of administrative restructuring, with which all representatives of polyphonic Mani must agree. In the recent past we have had two important successes, which can be considered as the first step for a wider unified administrative restructuring: first, the renaming of the Diocese of Gytheio and Oitylo to “Diocese of Mani”, which resulted in the resurgence of the term “Mani” as the official name of our region; second, the final restructuring, in two phases, of the many communities of the region into two municipalities that again contained the term “Mani”: Eastern Mani (although not only Eastern) and Western Mani. These changes were made due to the cooperation and joint action of both local government and ecclesiastical officials. This element of cooperation between secular and religious authorities is a precondition for the positive outcome of any project aiming at the administrative unification of Mani.
The disagreements between local government officials that followed the successful events of March 17 in Areopolis, brought again to the surface our traditional curse: the discord that is inherent in heroism. We need to exhaust all means, every resource and all bravery and inner strength, so that we can combat this divisive tendency. In order to advance the goal of the administrative restructuring of Mani, we need first, to eliminate the disagreements, and second, to get our local representatives to discuss with the wider Maniot community and reach an agreement on what kind of administrative restructuring is needed. Do we want a single municipality of Mani (Δήμος Μάνης) or a regional unit of Mani (Περιφερειακή Ενότητα Μάνης) in the Prefecture of Peloponnese (Περιφέρεια Πελοποννήσου), which according to the current electoral law, is a single-chair district in the parliamentary elections? Once we are clear on what kind of administrative restructuring we want, we can then reflect on both internal and external obstacles, but also determine the potential allies of our intended goals. Of course, once everything has been reflected upon and a common basis for action has been drafted, then we can mobilise all potential allies and we can bring our common plans and aspirations to the institutional decision makers.
The general recognition of the leadership, the courage and the sacrifice of our ancestors during the independece war of 1821, as was shown above, is a very strong basis for legislation, by way of exception, for the administrative restructuring in our region. The granting of special legislation to Mani will express a minimal reward from the state and political leadership of the country for the immense sacrifices and contributions of our region to the war of independence and to the Greek state in general.
ΤΗΕ ΕDITORIAL BOARD