Remembering one's roots

The history of cities is made up of gestures which seem small but are actually large and make a difference

IGNACIO LILLO

Malaga holds a special place in the heart of its people, and not all cities can boast of that. Even those who have made their life elsewhere, due to temporary circumstances or as a permanent move, remain linked to it through that unbreakable umbilical cord which is known as their roots.

Easter has just finished and those who bore the weight of the images on their shoulders have returned to their everyday lives. Some had travelled from far-off places to spend time with their families and friends, yes, but they also stole hours away from them to fulfil their commitments to their religious brotherhoods. Nearly always, apart from devotion, they are motivated by their responsibility as 'malagueños' to keep traditions alive, making it possible for a spectacle to take place in the streets which attracts thousands of visitors. Well done, to them all.

Around the same time, another young man from Malaga finally completed a challenge he set himself four years ago. Few people know him, and what he has done may not interest some, but as a gesture for the city it is as invaluable as it is unprecedented.

Álvaro Rojas Zamora, 33, was born and brought up in the Gamarra district of Malaga. He is an aeronautics engineer and mechanic and has a promising future with the British multinational Rolls-Royce. He works in their factory in Derby, in the heart of England, where they design, manufacture, install and test the engines which enable the biggest commercial aircrafts to fly. When one of their engines came to the end of its useful life and the company planned to send it to the scrap heap, Álvaro raised his hand and suggested that they send it to the Aviation Museum at Malaga Airport instead, a gem for those with an interest in aircraft and science, but generally quite unknown. It is well worth a visit, especially for families with children.

Achieving this wasn't exactly a bed of roses, but Álvaro continued to lead the process even through he was no longer working with this type of engine. The young engineer was convinced that this piece, which is now in its new home and the only one of its type on display in Spain, should end its days in the sunny environment of the Costa del Sol.

Not only does Álvaro transmit his passion for his work, but he is also involved in helping those who plan to follow in his footsteps, by taking part as a volunteer in activities to encourage a love of science, in the museum where he has just arranged this donation, among others. And southern Spain is probably always at the back of his mind, as it is where his roots are, even though he lives and works so far away these days.

I am convinced that the history of cities is made up of gestures which seem small but are actually large and make a difference: Álvaro Rojas and 'his' aircraft engine now have a place of their own in the history of Malaga.