Għandi Xi Ngħid (Manwel Dimech) – Prof. Andrew Azzopardi
Rehabilitation is perhaps the most widely used word in the field of criminal justice. I’m not sure we understand thoroughly what it implies. Simply put, this word positions forgiveness, love and redemption as a counterweight to the negative act that has been done. Rehabilitation is the cure that every citizen needs and deserves since it’s a longtime universally acknowledged assumption that we learn from the evil and harm that others do and thus refine our social mechanisms. Aside from that, everyone deserves another chance, over and over again, to fully redeem oneself. Of course, this does not happen unless one atones for one’s deeds. Only then can reform become consequential to a harmonious sense of community.
Now, one hundred years after the death of Manwel Dimech, in connection with this phenomenon, we continue to insist that there is goodness in everyone, that there is worth and wisdom in everyone and that it is in the moment that prison robs us of those ideals that we may begin to lose hope in mankind. Dimech, despite having suffered loss throughout his upbringing, felt enlightened at some point and, instead of losing all sense of hope, used captivity to shape his thoughts about what it is that governs what is right in the way people live. Because real inner reform leads you to change through self-reflection. But not only that. Dimech is an inspiration to many because he managed to transform his inner energy into a fight against injustice and was not afraid to fight against the most powerful social and political forces of the time: the Catholic Church and the colonial occupiers. His life did not end happily because he was exiled to the cause and died far from home. A real pity—he had been an inspiration for many. Above all, Dimech wanted to send a message to the people to fight against the destruction of self-colonization—the propensity to be servile, to use our critical skills, to assimilate to one tribe or another. In short, Dimech had a lot to teach us, especially about the oppression and dismantling of man’s dignity in prison. His voice remains strong, a call for truth to surface. Let us continue to be inspired. An opportunity to meet this hero is what the theatrical work of Il-Qfil u l-Ħelsien Skont Manwel Dimech will offer, where Teatru Malta are collaborating with prisoners to create the elements of the theatrical set. The reform that Dimech once talked about is thus brought to life.