Monday, August 27, 2012

Obituary: Dom Mintoff (1916-2012), Who Ushered the Republic of Malta into Being

Media reported this past week on the death, on August 20th, at age 96, of Dominic “Dom” Mintoff, who was the 8th Prime Minister of Malta—first, from 1955 to 1958, when it was a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom, and again from 1971 to 1984, during which time he ushered the five-year-old independent commonwealth domain into its new status as a republic with no ties to the U.K.

A tiny, ancient archipelago, the reputed home (the Maltese island Gozo is presumed to be what the ancients called Ogygia) of Calypso from Homer’s Odyssey, as well as the isle on whose shores St. Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked, was Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Norman, Italian, and French, before the U.K. wrested it from Napoleon in 1814.  At 122 square miles, it is the 9th-smallest independent state in the world.

Odysseus had a grand old time in Malta.
Dominic Mintoff—known as Duminku Mintoff in Maltese (a dialect of Arabic using the Roman alphabet and heavily lexified by Italian, English, and other languages)—was born in Conspicua, Malta, in 1916, one of nine children, to a devout Catholic family.  (Malta, an Apostolic See, is 98% Catholic—though Mintoff later became a combative nuisance to the Church).  He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England and in the 1940s returned to his homeland to enter politics, as a socialist in the Labour Party.  He was instrumental in rebuilding Malta after the pummeling it took in the Second World War.

St. Paul the Apostle didn’t have nearly as much of a grand old time in Malta as Odysseus had.
Then again, read the New Testament: Paul didn’t know how to party.
When Malta became independent from the U.K. in 1964, but still as a Commonwealth domain with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, Mintoff boycotted the independence celebrations.  Taking power in 1971, he did everything he could to limit British cultural, economic, and political influence in Malta, even going so far as to ban the Times of London.

The flag of the Republic of Malta
Finally, in 1974, Prime Minister Mintoff succeeded in establishing a Republic of Malta, and when the military agreement with the U.K. ended in 1979, he sent Her Majesty’s armed forces packing, never to return.  Aid from Italy and—less felicitously—the People’s Republic of China and Moammar al-Qaddafi’s dictatorship in Libya helped plug the economic hole the British left behind.  Malta joined the European Union (E.U.) in 2004 and the Euro Zone in 2008, but never the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Moammar al-Qaddafi and Dom Mintoff celebrating
the departure of the last British troops from Malta in 1979.
Mintoff’s state funeral was held August 25, 2012.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

1 comment:

  1. It has, unfortunately, been going on for some time now. That's service to one's comment, alright. fund raising


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