I am a father of sons but also a father of a daughter. The first time my daughter heard of Daphne was right after Daphne had been killed. She was 7 at the time. She had gathered that I did something called ‘blogging’ and in the hours after news of Daphne’s assassination struck us, my daughter gathered that another blogger had just been killed.
It took some explaining.
I wish I had Gattaldo’s book with me at the time. In many ways this children’s book is yet another telling of a story of a true fearless hero of our time, but a story that only made it to books, documentaries and paintings after any of that was too late to protect her.
Daphne’s story is of a woman who faced down a society unable to appreciate her worth, impatient with her presence, scared of her intelligence, overwhelmed by her wit and keen to have her out.
Here’s a Facebook post from May 2017, one of many Daphne Caruana Galizia was faced with.
Robert Musumeci says he’s keen to see the Labour Party “neutralising” Caruana Galizia after the June 3 election. John Bonello and until then another 191 others, like, love or laugh at it. How does she react? Does she complain? Crouch in fear? Quit?
No. She puts the post up on her blog with a sarcastic heading: “they’re going to build a dead camp with some special showers, just for me”. I shudder to think I might have read her post when she first put it out and saw a funny side.
‘Abu el Banat’ comes from a Josiah Bartlett quote I thought of when I got Gattaldo’s book in the post today: “We had a guide, a Bedouin man, who called me ‘Abu el Banat’. And whenever we’d meet another Bedouin, he’d introduce me as Abu el Banat. And the Bedouin would laugh and laugh and offer me a cup of tea. And I’d go to pay them for the tea and they wouldn’t let me. ‘Abu el Banat’ means ‘father of daughters’. They thought the tea was the least they could do.”
I am blessed to have a daughter and would lose all sense of reason or restraint if she were ever to be harmed. Fathers are often idols of their daughters but Daphne is the perfect role model for any young woman. It would be the greatest blessing of all if my daughter were to learn from the fearless Daphne.
This post is dedicated to Mr Michael Vella, Abu el Banat.