The Malta Independent 22 October 2018, Monday

The apotheosis

Noel Grima Sunday, 31 December 2017, 10:58 Last update: about 11 months ago

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was the most important event in the year that ends today. Forget Malta's first presidency of the European Council, forget the statistics of economic growth, and forget any other claim for pre-eminence. Daphne's death overshadowed everything else.

I still think most of us have not yet put the killing in its proper context. Maybe many of us are still constrained by restrictive mental processes, still living in the past, still playing around with hypotheses as to who caused her death, or still living the controversies that played out in her writings. We are living the killing in the mental frame of mind of the past and it has yet to occur to us that the situation has changed.


To live in the past, even to try and guess what led to the murder, who commissioned it, is to close our collective minds to what has happened since that fateful 16th October - her apotheosis.

She has not stopped being the writer of so many articles in our papers, and on her blog. She has become an icon, and not a limited Maltese icon but one with an international, a continental, resonance. Unfortunately, in the circumstances, we now have a name that has risen above all the natural limitations of our insularity. Since her death, she has risen to apotheosis.

One is tempted to say she has been more honoured outside Malta than here, even among those who keep her memory alive. She has had a sitting held by the European Parliament in her honour, a pressroom named after her. Apart from the shrine at the foot of the Great Siege monument facing the Law Courts in Valletta, there is reportedly a shrine in her honour in front of Notre Dame in Paris and possibly elsewhere.

More than these shrines, she has been honoured and raised to continental honours with the tools of her trade - words. I refer here to the full supplement carried by La Repubblica which nominated her as Person of the Year and, more specifically, to what Roberto Saviano said in her regard.

Many Maltese have not heard of Saviano, but in Italy his words are read with respect. I refer readers to the article about him in Wikipedia. There are many similarities between the two and some dissimilarities too: he has lived under continual police protection for many years now; he has been condemned to death by the Mafia in its various forms.

Paying tribute, Roberto Saviano wrote: "Daphne embodied the power of speech, able to shake a government... She was killed because she understood the illegal flows of money through Malta and she understood this was not someone doing something wrong but an entire system designed for the flow of dirty money."

And it was not just in Italy that she found admirers. Last week she was also awarded an honorary Deutscher Reporterpreis for Investigative Journalism by Reporter-Forum in Berlin. Also, in a documentary on Metropolis on Arte, the Franco-German cultural television, respected German investigative journalist Hans Leyendecker spoke highly of her sacrifice.

That's besides other articles all over the world press, from the Wall Street Journal to The Guardian.

Many people here have focused on the factual mistakes that may have dotted these writings but have resolutely closed their ears to what lay beyond the words. They have, and still are, failing to see that after her death Daphne Caruana Galizia has been raised to become a potent icon of the fight against injustice, the defiance of circles of corruption by small, defenceless, individuals.

She has been killed by those who thought that her death would silence her; instead, her death has given her words the potency of invincibility. Rather than being blasted away like her mortal body, her words have now risen to defy, and condemn, injustice and corruption wherever they might be.

One doubts that her memory will ever fade from Maltese consciousness, but even if that happens, her memory will live on wherever the fight against corruption goes on.

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