Studies concerning the evolution of nations in their historical course over the centuries conclude that the nations which survive are the ones which have a strong cultural base. Migrations, which lead to mixing of population groups with different cultural backgrounds, ultimately result in the predominance of the main characteristics of the culturally stronger population group. Mani’s history confirms these findings. Since the 3rd century AD, when it began to emerge as an autonomous region, it was subjected to diverse relocations of population groups (Romans, Slavs, Franks, Arvanites, Venetians). But with language being the main cultural element from the start, and religion afterwards, it was able to assimilate and integrate most of the different characteristics of these populations into its own cultural backgrounds. An important factor in this development was the autonomy of the region, based on the geophysical structure of its terrain and the warlike character of its inhabitants. The martial nature of the area increasingly developed by enriching the martial ability of its original inhabitants, inherited from their Spartan origins, with corresponding characteristics of the population groups that were relocated to its geographical area.
With the establishment of the modern Greek state, the autonomous characteristics of the region began to gradually fade, first with its integration into the administrative and legal system of the state and then with the removal of its transportation isolation. On the other hand, the migratory tendency of its overpopulation, which had been created in the previous period, caused in some cases a strong weakening of the cultural characteristics of the region.
However, during the last few decades, external changes, both of an administrative and economic nature, have changed the cultural backgrounds that had existed until then. The accession to the European Union, and especially the globalisation, accompanied by easy and rapid movement of people and goods, created new conditions of economic balance in the geographical area of Mani. Its privileged geophysical and climatic characteristics, due to the “opening up” caused by the removal of its transportation isolation, began to attract more and more visitors as well as people wishing to settle permanently in the area. This trend leads year after year to the generation of new income, to the extent of more than covering the shortfall in income from local production sources. What is required, in order to shape the characteristics of Mani of the future, is to make effective use of these trends for the benefit of its residents, both permanent and relocated, as well as the quality upgrade of the area. Above all, however, it is the formation of the necessary new cultural backgrounds that will harmoniously integrate the new population groups settling in the area.
The partitioning of properties, a legacy of the long-standing institution of patriarchal families, creates the first shield against large investment projects that would alter the natural characteristics of the area. It is also an indirect incentive to reinvest in our geographical area the incomes generated by the large number of visitors and the sale of houses and land. If entrepreneurs actually reinvest in Mani, the only thing that will be additionally required is the improvement of the quality of operation of the new investments according to the demands of the tourist market. However, achieving this will require good planning and, above all, joint action.
The aim will always be to offer better quality services by local entrepreneurs in a competitive environment. They, due to the opening of markets, will have to compete with others who may have more investment funds, easier access to international tourist agencies and more organised services for visitors. It goes without saying that this requirement leads to the need for reformed cultural backgrounds resulting from the qualitative upgrading of education and training in the region. We believe that parents have the first say in advancing this pursuit. If conscious parents generally have an obligation to take care of their children’s education, parents-entrepreneurs have a greater obligation to ensure that lasting quality is an integral part of their family businesses. Since the local entrepreneurs of the coming decades will have attended schools in the region, at least in the first stage, it becomes a necessity to upgrade their quality. In order to achieve this goal, the role of parents and local self-governing bodies is as important as the role of teachers and public education in general. Only close partnerships between these factors can lead to the desired results. The historical approach of this kind of partnerships, those created a few decades ago and which led to a revival of the educational structures of our region, could serve as a model for the proposed partnerships.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD