Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, will go down in history as Malta’s most fearless woman. The blogger from the rural hamlet of Bidnija dedicated almost every day of her short life to saying the things others were afraid to say, and she paid the ultimate price for it.
This was her most admirable quality: her readiness to pay any price to say what she felt had to be said.
She accepted to lose her job when her editors refused to publish her work. She accepted to fight bitter law suits till the end when most other journalists would have preferred to settle out of court. Most recently she accepted to be ostracised by the political party she felt closest to after they elected a leader she could not tolerate.
She dedicated her life to media, first at The Times, then at The Malta Independent and most recently as the curator of her one-woman blog Running Commentary which hooked a nation for almost 10 years. In the meantime she also created and curated some of Malta’s top magazines such as Taste and Flair.
Her pen was so powerful that her persona became much bigger than that of a journalist. Her eloquence, impact and loyal readership gave her the aura of a politician – certainly a standard-bearer in society, armed with what she termed half-sarcastically as her “international network of spies”. There were few politicians in the past 30 years who escaped Caruana Galizia’s wrath. And she outlived many of them or at least their political careers.
Even when she was sued – and she was sued more times than can be counted – people stood up for her. Eight months ago more than €60,000 were raised to help her fight back a string of criminal libel suits.
Throughout it all, she was also undoubtedly ready to accept her ultimate fate, as she fearlessly called out people she herself believed were part of wide international criminal networks. She knew it could one day come to this. But she was relentless anyway because it was never worth living in a country that didn’t allow her to speak her mind.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a loving wife to a gentlemanly husband. She was the mother of three exceptional sons, including a recent Pulitzer Prize winner. She was hailed by Politico as one of the 27 people most likely to shape our world in 2017. And before the year was up, she ended up on the front page of almost every news portal in the world, a slain journalist in what many may think is the capital of progressive Europe.
Many people had contempt towards Daphne Caruana Galizia. Some hated her because she shamed them publicly. Others because she was too liberal – or in some cases – too conservative. Some hated her because she seemed so blinded politically. No matter how divisive she may have been, she commanded everybody’s attention and was one of the most effective thought-provokers our country has ever seen.
Even some of her staunchest of enemies would agree that Malta is less safe today than it was with her commentary. In a country whose institutions have been allowed to rot, she was the most unrelenting voice. And without that, we will all feel her loss.
As investigations take place, there is not much we can do today except remember everything she taught us and put it all into practice.
Her murder was the most painful reminder that things are not quite as they seem in Malta. Behind the facade of economic boom and sweeping liberal changes, there lies an ugly truth. We still don’t realise how fragile it all is and how quickly it can be taken away.
How do you remember Daphne Caruana Galizia? Share your tributes in the comments below.