Over the Christmas holidays I was traveling high up in the Moroccan Atlas mountains with the whole family when the sudden familiar sound of a Nokia cut through the thin air. It came from the bottom of the backpack where our mobile was lying next to the medical kit. They rarely get used, but always come along – just in case.
In this case – it was worth the frantic search through dirty socks and leaking shower gel. We received great news. Really great news. However, it took a few minutes before we could decipher what was going on at the other end of the line. The phone call was from our two nieces – both previous models – and currently in a state of total shock and pure joy. Why? Because Kaiane Aldorino, a friend and modelling colleague of theirs, had just been crowned MISS WORLD 2009.
There were hysterical screams on the other end of the phone. They didn’t know what to do, where to go to celebrate this immense victory. So the whole population of roughly thirty thousand Gibraltarians took to the streets. There was shouting, an echoing of ”oh my God, I can’t believe it! WE WON”!
Kaiane Aldorino (23), managed to achieve what no other Gibraltarian has ever done. She placed her tiny nation on the world map once and for all. And what’s more, she did it in a competition where arch rival Spain was also participating. Her crowning may have been a beautiful ceremony on the screen, but for thirty thousand Gibraltarians it was a solid “up yours” to neighbouring Spain.
For those of you who have never been to (or maybe even heard of) Gibraltar, here’s a short summary of historic events:
711 – The Moors take control of the Rock, naming it Jebel Tariq (Tariq’s mountain).
1462 – The Spanish conquered Gibraltar, and incorporated it into the Kingdom of Spain.
1704 – The British took Gibraltar, and it became one of Britain’s key colonies by the Mediterranean Sea.
When this happened the whole Spanish population of Gibraltar fled to nearby towns in Spain, and only approximately seventy people remained. This is why Gibraltar as we know it today is a culture that started pretty much from scratch when the British took over. The Gibraltarians are a mix between mostly Genoese, Portugese, British, Maltese, Spanish and Jewish genes.
1779 -1783 – The Great Siege of Gibraltar took place when Spain wanted Gibraltar back. This is known as one of the longest continuous sieges in history. However, the British forces never gave up and managed to defend the Rock using cleverly constructed batteries and fortifications, both inside and outside the Rock itself.
1969 – 1985 – Fransisco Franco closed the border between Spain and Gibraltar, thus isolating Gibraltar. Franco hoped to strangle Gibraltar’s economy, but achieved quite the opposite; the people of Gibraltar developed their own constitution and developed a strong sense of national pride which to this day is a recognizable feature wherever you go in Gib.
Ok, history lesson over. To sum it up, there has been tension between Gibraltar and Spain ever since the Rock became a British colony more than three hundred years ago. It was Moorish more than twice as long as it was Spanish, but oddly enough the Spanish still claim it back. Almost on a daily basis. We’re talking severe political tension which still surfaces in the shape of manipulated border queues making it tricky to move in and out of Gibraltar. Fishing in illegal waters is also a frequent issue as Spain doesn’t recognize Gibraltar waters. Etc, etc.
So which role does the world’s most beautiful woman play in all of this?
Well, she was given the welcome of a Queen upon her return to the Rock. There were fire works, people took to the streets to hail her as a hero. The Chief Minister Peter Caruana has been known to say that this will show Spain once and for all. Personally I hope he is right. After all it is no secret that beautiful women can indeed change history.
May the force be with you Kaiane!