• The Committee "Greece 2021" in Areopolis and Kardamili paid tribute to the places where the 1821 struggle for liberation began in the South Peloponnese
• Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki: The Maniates gave an enduring message of unity, set aside their differences and joined their forces against the conqueror
• The Municipalities of East and West Mani want to celebrate the bicentennial with proposals looking toward the future
Mani, this symbol of unconquered spirit, the place chosen by the Friendly Society as the ground zero of the 1821 revolution, the area that kept the flame of freedom burning even when the Revolution seemed to be failing, was visited by a delegation of the Committee "Greece 2021", headed by President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. The delegation visited successively, Areopolis, at the Municipality of East Mani, and Kardamili, at the Municipality of West Mani. Assembly Members Professors Paschalis Kitromilidis, Nikos Kanellopoulos, Evanthis Hatzivassiliou, and Ekaterini Polymerou-Kamilaki, former Director of the Folklore Research Center of the Academy of Athens, participated in the delegation.
Visit to Aeropolis
The Mayor of East Mani Petros Andreakos, with his staff and members of the Municipality's Honorary Tribute Body, welcomed the Committee delegation in Areopoli. In the presence of his Eminence Metropolitan Bishop of Mani Chrysostomos III, Laconia MP Athanasios Davakis, and several Areopolites in traditional costumes, the President and the members of the Committee Assembly visited the Holy Church of Taxiarches, where the Maniates fighters attended mass before setting off to liberate Kalamata.
"Wherever you tread on this earth, on these stones, you realize that it is true what has been said about the willpower of the Maniates who did not allow any invader to set foot on their land. In 1821, the Maniates raised the flag of the Revolution with the phrase "Victory or death". And with their brave feats, such as the liberation of Kalamata, they wrote their names in Greek history," the President of the Committee said in her statements at Athanaton Square (Square of the Immortals), where the statue of Petrobei Mavromihalis is located.
"We, the people of Mani, recognize our significant contribution to the Revolution of 1821. Mani is probably the only Greek area that the Ottoman despot failed to conquer. This historic course is a great honor but also a considerable legacy," said the Mayor of East Mani, adding: "I hope that the 200th anniversary will be an opportunity for reflection on our achievements and limitations as a Nation and the right way to move forward in the course of the next one hundred years."
"To eliminate the word discord from our future"
During the visit, the Committee delegation had the opportunity to discuss with representatives of the local community the Municipality's proposal for the bicentennial, which covers the creation of a digital museum of the history of Mani. A proposal that stands with one foot in the past, in the history of the place, and with the other in the future, digital technology and the development that will create a legacy for the future. "We will remember this anniversary not only because we will commemorate our progression so far, but for everything we have planned for the future. We will remember this anniversary because it opened the door to the future. We are the masters of our own fate, just like our ancestors," said the President of the Committee.
His Eminence Metropolitan Bishop of Mani Chrysostomos III made an impressive statement. "In the course of our history, there has been a word that we modern Greeks of the 21st century must eliminate. This word, this devious word, is discord. This thorn must disappear. This is what we must communicate to our future generations," the Metropolitan Bishop said, with all those present erupting into applause.
Lessons in patridognosia (the subject of studying about our country)
The visit to Mani deeply moved the Members of the Assembly. "The visit to Mani is a lesson in patridognosia, the study of our country’s history and geography, and at the same time a pilgrimage, at the place where the great Struggle for liberation began. This great legacy of determination in the Struggle for freedom was bestowed on us by the Maniates and their exemplary behavior," said Paschalis Kitromilidis. "With the extraordinary lamentations we heard today, we feel as if we can fly," said Ekaterini Polymerou-Kamilaki, referring to the lamentations, the funeral songs sung by Ekaterini Antonakou Braimi, a member of the Honorary Tribute Body of the Municipality of East Mani, at Athanaton Square (The Square of the Immortals.)
"Our visit to Mani is a tribute. Not just to a historic area but to an area that, in the context of the National Revolution, the entire nation owes a great deal. It is also a tribute to the pristine and magnificent beauty of the landscape," said Evanthis Hatzivassiliou. "As a Lacon and a Maniatis, I am extremely moved by our visit here," stressed Nikos Kanellopoulos, emphasizing the importance of unity, synergy, and collaboration for the benefit of the country's future. "This place lit the first spark of the Revolution, the first ember that started what we now call Greek Rebirth," said Laconia MP Theodoros Davakis.
Visit to Kardamili
The following day, a delegation of the Committee "Greece 2021" visited historic Kardamili, where they met with the Mayor of West Mani Dimitris Yannimaras. "The Municipality of West Mani is small in population but very large in history, both ancient and modern. Using our limited capabilities, and through the Municipality's proposals to the Committee, we hope to highlight our history and the contribution of our area to the Revolution of 1821. To the liberation struggle that allowed us to be free today," said the Mayor.
"At Kitries, the Maniates taught all Greeks an enduring lesson in unity, when the influential families of the region put aside their differences and joined forces against the conqueror. It was in Mani where Kolokotronis and Papaflessas were given shelter on the eve of the Revolution, where the boats of the Friendly Society unloaded the gunpowder for the ammunition of the Struggle," the President of the Committee said in a statement at the city's Square of the Fallen, where the bust of the 1821 fighter Panagiotis (Mourtzinos) Troupakis is found. "The decision to honor the Revolution does not aim only at highlighting what happened in the past. It also aims at respectfully using the past to serve the future and bring prosperity to every region. A celebration without prosperity is meaningless," she said characteristically.
Proposals looking to the future
The Committee delegation made particular reference to the proposals of the Municipality of West Mani, especially the proposal concerning the digital connection of the Towers of Mani with the economic, professional and cultural life of the locales, a project designed by the Association "Diazoma" under the presidency of former Minister and former Mayor of Kalamata, Stavros Benos. "We are trying to achieve a total synergy between the dynamic forces of the region, between how the people act, work, operate here, and nature, culture, the wonderful monuments of the region. Our focus is this main identifying monument of Mani, which is its towers," said Mr. Benos, underlining that for the proposal, no funding is requested from the Committee.
"We are happy because in a place where the strategies for the battles of 1821 were devised, now strategies can begin to develop for the future. The Municipality's proposals for the anniversary open a window into the future," said Committee Assembly member Ekaterini Polymerou-Kamilaki. Nikos Kanellopoulos mentioned the Towers of Mani's digital connection with their locales' economic, professional, and cultural life, underlining the importance of technology in solidifying its success. "The area of West Mani has a special position in national history and the history of the national Revolution. And our visit here intends to pay the proper respect to this place, to its people, to your ancestors. We greatly admired the Municipality's proposals. These proposals are oriented towards the future, a fact that confirms that the area does not only have an important past but an important future, as well," said Evanthis Hatzivassiliou.
At Patrick Leigh Fermor's house
The Committee delegation also toured Old Kardamili, where they saw the famous well-kept tower-houses and visited the Patrick & Joan Leigh Fermor House, located just outside Kardamili. The house was the home of the famous British writer, Philhellene, intellectual and adventurer, well-known for his action against the German conquerors in Crete's mountains.
The Committee was guided through the house by Irene Geroulanou, President of the Administrative Committee of the Benaki Museum. Fermor donated his residence to the Museum, expressing the desire for it to be used for the purposes of the Museum, to host researchers, and to remain open to the public. A productive discussion with local community bodies and representatives on the region's economy and growth potential took place at the house, with particular references to thematic tourism and the further promotion of superior quality local products.