The Life & Times of Il-Bambinu
Curated by Charlie Cauchi
Photography by © Elisa Von Brockdorff
Bil-Mixi Ġejt: The Life & Times of Il-Bambinu
Kurazzjoni ta’: Charlie Cauchi
Kontenut Arkivjali: Magna Żmien u l-Familja Abela
Produced by: Festivals Malta għal Ritmu Roots Festival 2023, li kien megħjun mill-Ministeru għall-Wirt Nazzjonali, l-Arti u l-Gvern Lokali u GSD Marketing Ltd.
Bil-Mixi Ġejt: The Life and Times of il-Bambinu is an exhibition illuminating the world of the late Mikiel Abela. More popularly known as il-Bambinu, he was one of Malta’s most prolific għannejja, known chiefly for his makkjetti and folk ballads.
The title is inspired by a line from an improvised verse he famously sang during a performance held in honour of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the late 1970s. Ever the quick-witted balladeer, he cheekily appealed to the dictator:
Sur Gaddafi tħobb lil Malta
Jien miż-Żejtun bil-mixi ġejt
Nitolbok biex tagħdirna
U fittex raħsilna ż-żejt.
Mr. Gaddafi, You love Malta
I have walked all the way from Żejtun
To implore you to empathize with us
Spare no time in reducing the price of your petrol
The stanza encapsulates Il-Bambinu: a man from a humble background, proud of his nation and who, like all great għannejja, did not shy away from challenging authority.
Audio recordings, film, photography and ephemera expose audiences to Il-Bambinu’s music. This exhibition speaks to the significance of his style and storytelling qualities, placing his figure in the social and cultural context of his time. Il-Bambinu’s work is firmly rooted in the soil of his homeland.
The collection highlights the context in which his work was created, offering audiences a gateway to a Malta that no longer exists. This event aims to build knowledge and appreciation for one of our most beloved folk musicians. It also seeks to highlight Malta’s musical traditions and allow future generations the opportunity to access their cultural heritage.